By Aly Semigran
Updated July 02, 2009 at 04:00 AM EDT

Paul Sturgis has entered his twilight years alone, reveling only in the presence of passersby. When his last remaining relative dies, Paul is forced to reassess whether he wants to continue his life of solitude. Right on cue, he meets a charismatic stranger during a flight to Venice; soon after that, he is reunited with a long-lost love. But even in his seasoned old age, perennial bachelor Paul seems unable to choose whom he’d rather spend the rest of his days with. While Anita Brookner’s latest novel shares keen insights on the emotional toll of a painful past, Strangers also — much like our protagonist — takes its sweet time deciding where it wants to go. B