Lewis Percy, by Anita Brookner: A Précis

There was a Lewis Percy. He saw it himself, one morning in the mirror, while shaving. That was before the house crumbled and there was no mirror left — only Tissy, his china doll wife, sitting with ankles crossed, hands folded, and skirts spread out decorously over the Victorian sofa, presiding like a household deity, over nothing.

And like the dear little tendrils of fragile vine creeping over the charming cottage, slowly destroying its mortar, Tissy’s silent prettiness hollowed out the shell of Lewis Percy. They never had a disagreement. Or an agreement.

He had always wanted to be a character in a book — and fancied himself a man, there to protect her. When, instead, he found that she had been protecting herself, (largely against him) he changed his definition of manhood, flew off to America and divorced her.

She didn’t notice.

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