Ruth Weiss, a Balzac scholar, has always relied on literature to guide her moral compass. The heroes and heroines of Charles Dickens were worthy of emulation, while others such as Anna Karenina and Emma Bovary served as dire warnings. Hard work and virtuous living would reward one in the end, even if only with one's own righteous satisfaction.
However, after years of putting the needs of others, (namely her parents), first, Ruth decides that she was wrong, that literature has ruined her life.
She begins to branch out on her own, to live a life separate from her demanding parents.
Whether or not she achieves an independent, happy life is revealed in the novel. Telling here would spoil it for someone else, so I'll remain mum. ;-)
I loved The Debut! This is the second of Brookner's works that I've read, and I now consider her a favorite author. In both of the books I've read, the writing was near flawless. I immediately became drawn to the characters, immersed in their stories. They are not larger-than-life characters living grand adventures. They're just ordinary people coping with every-day problems. Somehow, Brookner exalts the ordinary, frames it in such a way that it becomes important.