by Anita Brookner
Pantheon; 261 pages; $18.95
Lewis Percy yearns for the company of women. Too timid to expect them to love him, he aspires merely to their tolerance. Trusting and giving, guided by a "lasting conviction that women were a congenial and compassionate sex," he embarks on a quixotic quest for female companionship, only to experience shattering disappointment at the hands of those he seeks to love. Lewis' Bildungsroman is an ironic twist on the 19th century romantic novels he studies in his library carrel. This hero struggles for placid domesticity; it is the women who behave like...