By Anita Brookner
(Vintage, Paperback, 9780679773252, 240pp.)
Publication Date: January 12, 1998
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Standing on a railway platform in a Swiss resort town, sensibly clad in his Burberry raincoat and walking shoes, a man thinks he may be looking at the woman for whom he ruined his life many years earlier. Alan Sherwood, a quiet English solicitor, remembers back to a time when he stepped briefly out of character to indulge in a liaison with Sarah Miller, an intriguing but heartless distant relative--only to find himself in a series of absurd situations that culminated in his marriage to Sarah's clinging, childlike friend Angela.
With her compassionate portrait of a man who has paid a terrible price for his folly, Anita Brookner gives us a novel that it at once harrowing and humane. In the traditions of Henry James and Thomas Mann, Altered States is a beautifully rendered tale of loneliness, guilt, and erotic obsession.
Anita Brookner was born in London in 1928. She received a B.A. from King's College, University of London, and a Ph.D. in the history of art from the Courtauld Institute. Brookner taught at the University of Reading from 1959 to 1964, and since 1967 has been a Lecturer in Art History at the Courtauld. From 1967 to 1968 she was Slade Professor at Cambridge, the first woman to hold that position.
Since her first novel was published in 1981, Brookner has had a dual career as an art historian and a novelist. She has been remarkably successful in both fields and has published fourteen novels in as many years. Hotel du Lac, her fourth novel, won the Booker Prize, England's highest honor for fiction.
"Engrossing-- a brilliant X-ray of obsession." -New York Times Book Review
"Brilliant.... In a category of its own." -The Globe and Mail
"Altered States -- is among [Brookner's] best. Its spare, gripping narrative and sombre, yet illuminating look at the power of passion is extraordinary." -The London Free Press
"Brookner's vision of human behaviour is scrupulously honest, without ever being cruel-- a gem of revelation." -Chicago Tribune