In her latest novel, "The Bay of Angels", Anita Brookner explores again the mother-daughter relationship, this time set against the background of the French Riviera.
Zoe Cunningham's isolated intimate relationship with her mother, Anne, is interrupted by Anne's second marriage to Simon, a much older man, and Anne's move to Nice where Simon owns a garish mansion. Zoe continues her life by attending university and taking up with a boyfriend, Adam, who teases her by frequent infidelities. Zoe visits Anne with Adam and is surprised and disgusted by Simon's arousal outside her bedroom when she is making love to Adam.
Soon afterwards, Simon dies and her mother, driven to hopelessness by her sudden widowhood, is consigned to a nursing home.
Zoe, at first in disbelief in her mother's withdrawal, makes plans to bring Anne back to London where they had lived, but eventually comes to realize that her mother will never live outside the nursing home.
Brookner alternates her themes of despair and loss with an emergence of love and renewal. Unusual for her, Brookner rescues Zoe from a duplication of her mother's live of sacrifice to one of vitality and joy.
This report prepared by Betty-Jeanne Korson