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With this novel, Booker Prize-winning author Anita Brookner confirms her reputation as an unparalleled observer of social nuance and deeply felt longings. Brief Lives chronicles an unlikely friendship: that between the flamboyant, monstrously egocentric Julia and the modest, self-effacing Fay, who is at once fascinated and appalled by Julia's excesses. Thrust together by their husbands' business partnership -- and by a guilty secret -- Julia and Fay develop an intense bond that is nonetheless something less than intimacy, a relationship in which we see our own uneasy compromises, not only with other people, but with life itself.read more