Anita Shreve's novels usually require patience on the part of the reader, and this book is no exception--in fact it can be quite demanding! But the deeper the reader can get with this particular book, more intricate and rewarding levels are mined.
Paul Sturgis is an elderly but vigorous bachelor living in London who contemplates his preferred isolation to his need for companionship, and who becomes marginally involved with two diametricaly opposite types of women. This event alone culminates in a crisis of spirit and realization as the protagonist examines his current status, and begins to become more alive, less passive and more, what? Not active really , but rather reactive against his fate, usually pre-determined by someone other than himself.
Brookner's observance of the minutiae of relationships between men and women, and her elegance of language and sentence structure put one in mind of Barbara Pym. (And also Henry James, Brookner's idol) A very satisfying read.