Paul Sturgis is worried about his own death. He seems to have no particular concerns about actually being dead; his worry is rather that he is destined to ‘die among strangers’, and that his death might cause distress or inconvenience to these people whom he has not – and may never – meet. He has little option to do anything but die among strangers, as he is the hero of Anita Brookner’s new novel. Paul Sturgis has the grave misfortune to be a member of that curious emotional underclass that inhabits the bleak landscape of Brookner’s world.
Sturgis is in his seventies, a retired bank worker who lives alone in a dark little flat that he no longer likes. He has no family, he has mislaid all his acquaintances and he ekes out his existence by adhering to a comfortable routine. He walks in the