Brookner, Anita. Leaving Home (New York: Random House, 2005) 212 p.
A young English woman, in Paris to study gardening history, becomes friends with a young French woman at the library.
Françoise, my essential point of reference in this strange enterprise—which I found benign but increasingly unrealistic—was not at her station behind the catalogues but was clearly audible in the stacks, undeterred by the anguished 'Mademoiselle!' from M. Bonfils, the librarian, who decreed a monastic quiet for the benefit of his readers. Françoise ignored this and was, if anything, applauded for her flouting of correct procedure, was indeed greeted with a loving smile by the elderly scholars to whose desks she delivered the bulky volumes from which they derived those facts which would enable them to create bulky volumes of their own.We had become co-conspirators, clearly but wordlessly allied in our unspoken desire to subvert the solemnity of the reading-room. On the surface she merely provided me with those pattern books and prints which I studied with the utmost application and docility, until the darkening sky beyond the tall windows signalled the end of the working day, but behind our apparent rectitude we were alike in experiencing a form of anarchy which was, if anything, directed towards those innocent bent heads which I knew were serious, admirable, dedicated, but which I was in no hurry to resemble." (p. 20-21).