There are times when I wish a character would walk right off the page and into real life. Or that I could be a fly on the wall and watch what is happening rather than just reading, as if I am looking over someone's shoulder. I can see it all to some extent in my mind, and often novels play out for me mentally like a play on a stage, but sometimes . . . I just want it all to be real. It's when I feel like an author can see into my mind and knows what I am thinking and then write about it. I am sure it is just chance, and everyone must feel like this at times, but it can be uncanny when you see yourself in a fictional character. At the moment I am experiencing that with André Aciman's novel as well as with Anita Brookner's Providence.
I love Anita Brookner's work. I can almost always sympathize with her protagonists. As a matter of fact I can understand them and feel like she is somehow writing what is in my own head.
"Kitty was artfully put together, manufactured and tutored by her grandmother in the way of presenting herself advantageously, given the names of shoe designers and handbag makers and a special price because of trade connections. She felt exhausted sometimes by the sheer effort of composing her appearance, and not always sure of the results. Was she too elaborate?"
"To Kitty who lacked extensive diversion, these occasions were ones of pure entertainment [academic staff meetings]. They also gave her the opportunity to look at Maurice, if he were within her line of sight, and to savor the extreme delight of anticipating their next and more private meeting. Her expression was always rigorously schooled and she was discreet in a way that would have been becoming in a nineteenth-century governess; nevertheless, the Roger Fry Professor, looking up unexpectedly from his cubist design, had once noticed her look and was thus in possession of her secret."
"Tea and biscuits at the staff meeting were, for Kitty, the high point of an otherwise socially unadventurous week. She smiled with genuine pleasure a she accepted her cup; it was the only party she enjoyed these days. She dressed with extra care for these occasions, at which she said nothing; she thought her amateur status entitled her merely to attendance."
I know. I guess she sounds kind of average and maybe even a little boring or sad. Somehow, though, I understand Anita Brookner's characters. I want to keep reading her books this year, just read through her very prolific oeuvre.