Carefully wrought prose, like setting ornaments on a shelf in a just so manner.
It is the story of a young woman's entrance into adulthood told in the first person. Her passivity and determined naivete are irritating, especially in the context of her constant assertions that she is an independent and emancipated woman. She is completely dependent on, and constantly seeks, paternalistic oversight of some sort, and yet rarely or only obliquely acknowledges that reliance.
Some of the scenes were too contrived and jarringly unbelievable, such as the mother's hospitalisation, and the daughter's drifting helplessness. But the scenes in the Residence Saint Therese, especially the first scene, were wonderful. They were precise acute observations of the players and their roles in a nursing home.
Since this was my first novel by Brookner, I'm not sure if this claustrophobically precise style of writing is her own, or if it was the voice of the narrator. I'm looking forward to comparing it with another one of her novels.