Magazine article The Spectator

Everyone Is Dying Anita Brookner Last Friends by Jane Gardam Little Brown - Review

Magazine article The Spectator

Everyone Is Dying Anita Brookner Last Friends by Jane Gardam Little Brown - Review

Article excerpt

Everyone is dying Anita Brookner Last Friends by Jane Gardam Little Brown, �16.99, pp. 213, ISBN 9781609450939 Any writer who embarks on a trilogy is either extremely confident or taking something of a risk. The danger is that the reader will have forgotten the first two volumes and will have lost any memory of the story and the characters who now occupy the foreground of what might be a fairly mystifying account. So it is with Jane Gardam's present novel which forms the conclusion to her foregoing Old Filth and The Man with the Wooden Hat, which featured Terence Veneering and Edward Feathers, lawyers and rivals not only in their professional lives but in most other matters, both trivial and significant. They're not sympathetic characters, and time and distance have not improved them. Last Friends is concerned with their back stories, which add a further layer of confusion to what is already complicated and at times jauntily improbable.

We are reintroduced to Sir Terence, once plain Terry, the offspring of a Russian circus performer, now bedridden, and Florrie Gibson, dealer in various commodities and generally illiterate. So far so unprepossing.

Terry's rise to fame and eminence encompass the usual rites of passage, but the main emphasis is on the resilience of youth and the compromises of age.

Of the two old adversaries, now pillars of the establishment, only Terry is in the foreground, his being the most significant change of status. Feathers, or Filth, is still protected by his background, while Veneering is a magnet for needy old acquaintances, who persist in contacting him, eager for some sort of invitation. …

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