Books: Ashes Of Envy A FRIEND FROM ENGLAND

by Anita Brookner Pantheon; 205 pages; $15.95

Rachel Kennedy, 32, is a working partner in a London bookshop. She lives alone in a snug flat over the store. She is astute, self-sufficient and discreet. Occasionally, when the mood is on her, Rachel goes cruising, though she puts the matter even less romantically: "I go out, seek companions, bear them home . . . No bourgeois sentiments for me, no noble passions." Elsewhere, Anita Brookner's questionable heroine pitches her case more strongly: "I had resolved at a very early stage never to be reduced to any form of emotional beggary, never to plead, never to impose guilt, and never...

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