Brief Lives (1990)Read about another novel on the list.
A bracing novel of lifelong female friendship, or enmity. The narrator doesn’t really like Julia – “She was not a very nice woman, but then neither am I” – yet when she reads Julia’s obituary it prompts the novel’s pouring out of reminiscence, fascination. The women are brought close by the connection between their husbands – but the men feel almost instrumental, it’s what’s between the women that’s truthful and terrible, raw. Brookner notates the ritual of domestic habit like an anthropologist: her friend remembers Julia “placing her underclothes on a chair in her bedroom and covering them with a square of silk reserved for this purpose”.