Incidents in the Rue Laugier Essay - Critical Essays

Anita Brookner

Incidents in the Rue Laugier

INCIDENTS IN THE RUE LAUGIER sounds like a mystery, and it is, if following the circuitous routes of emotion has overtones of suspense. Maud Harrison’s pasts, and there are at least two, are of interest to her quiet and reasonable daughter as she discovers some of her mother’s belongings, long hidden on a shelf. Maud was reared in Dijon, France, by her mother and never knew this lady as an intimate or even as a friend. Emotions were expressed with difficulty, passion was never even a thought, let alone a feeling to be mentioned. Maud had quiet dreams of escaping this near-dead mausoleum of life, and her mother also endorsed this thought.

Maud’s cousin and family inadvertently introduce Maud, and her mother as well, to a young Englishman who lights their fantasies. He lights up all women’s dreams, as casually as a soft breeze causes the daffodils to sway. Maud seizes on the occasion to journey to Paris with Tyler and his friend Edward. By necessity, the threesome must define their roles and the relationships take shape in a not-too-surprising manner.

Emotions, passion, habits are the pivotal motivations in INCIDENTS IN THE RUE LAUGIER. Maud and Edward find themselves in a life they can not direct, control, or create, and yet they are able to find a modicum of peace and an occasional smile.

Brookner offers the reader lovely sketches of Paris, London, Dijon that set the travel bug itching in the reader. There are intense descriptions of mood, place, and attitude that are convincing and lovely. INCIDENTS IN THE RUE LAUGIER is a slice of life fully recognizable, sometimes shrouded in colors of gray, sometimes bright as the hot sun.

Sources for Further Study

Booklist. XCII, November 1, 1995, p. 434.

Library Journal. CXX, November 15, 1995, p. 98.

Los Angeles Times. January 2, 1996, p. E5.

The New York Times Book Review. CI, January 14, 1996, p. 13.

The Observer. June 11, 1995, p. 14.

Publishers Weekly. CCXLII, November 20, 1995, p. 66.

The Spectator. CCLXXIV, June 17, 1995, p. 43.

The Times Literary Supplement. June 2, 1995, p. 21.

The Virginia Quarterly Review. LXXII, Summer, 1996, p. 92.

The Wall Street Journal. January 12, 1996, p. A9.