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The Rules of Engagement by Anita Brookner


The Rules of Engagement by Anita Brookner

The Rules of Engagement is the twenty second novel by Anita Brookner, the Booker Prize winning author of Hotel du Lac. Elizabeth and Betsy are old school friends. Born in 1948 and unready for the sixties, they had high hopes of the lives they would lead, even though their circumstances were so different. When they meet again in their thirties, Elizabeth, married to the safe, older Digby is relieving the boredom of a cosy but childless marriage with an affair. Betsy seems to have found real romance in Paris. Are their lives taking off, or are they just making more of the wrong choices without even realising it? 'One of the most observant moralists writing today. A dark, wintry work and there is plenty here to satisfy Brookner's fans' Guardian 'Her technique as a novelist is so sure and so quietly commanding' Hilary Mantel, Guardian 'She is one of the great writers of contemporary fiction' Literary Review Anita Brookner was born in south London in 1928, the daughter of a Polish immigrant family. She trained as an art historian, and worked at the Courtauld Institute of Art until her retirement in 1988. She published her first novel, A Start in Life, in 1981 and her twenty-fourth, Strangers, in 2009. Hotel du Lac won the 1984 Booker Prize. As well as fiction, Anita Brookner has published a number of volumes of art criticism.


Beautifully rendered. . . . Unexpectedly and intensely moving. - The New York Times Book Review

Few novelists can stand with Anita Brookner when it comes to the interior revelations of the human heart. . . . A single sentence, a certain expression, a look or a gesture convey worlds of meaning. . . . Every page has a felicity of wording that makes you want to reach for a pen, to underline passages that you don't want to forget. - The Seattle Times

Beautifully written. . . . The Rules of Engagement demonstrates the triumph of a keenly introspective mind. - The Atlantic Monthly

The Rules of Engagement is vintage Brookner in the grace and ease of its language. The Booker Prize-winning author is a gifted storyteller, weaving in twists and turns that make the book hard to abandon. - Chicago Tribune

Elizabeth Wetherall is clearly recognizable as one of Brookner's exquisite gem solitaries. . . . To read Brookner is to come into contact with a first-rate mind. . . . [She] is relentlessly existential. But also comic. - Miami Herald

The story is told . . . with such elegance and polish that its surface-satiny, flawless and smooth as an onion, as always-holds a fascination equal to its content. - The Washington Post Book World

One of the great strengths of Brookner's fiction: her ability to lay bare in limpid, measured, luminous prose her characters
least admirable, most desperate motivations.

- Los Angeles Times Book Review

[Brookner renders] her characters with intense fidelity. Few novelists have such a subtle, portrait artist's sense of their characters. - San Francisco Chronicle

Brookner is a master of the art of the middle distance andas graceful as a matador when she uses the bright cape of her elegant Jamesian sentences to keep intimacy at bay. - The Boston Globe

About the Author

Anita Brookner was born in London in 1928, spent some postgraduate years in Paris and taught at the Courtauld Institute of Art until 1988. Of her novels Penguin publish: Lewis Percy, A Start in Life, Brief Lives, Hotel du Lac, A Closed Eye, Providence, Family and Friends, Look At Me, Fraud, A Family Romance, A Private View, Incidents in the Rue Laugier, Altered States, Visitors, Falling Slowly and Undue Influence. She died in March 2016.

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Book Info

Publication date

1st July 2004


Anita Brookner

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Penguin Books Ltd


256 pages


Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)



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