Elizabeth Finch

Elizabeth Finch by Julian Barnes is a quiet, elegant novel about the impact of a teacher on the life of one particularly devoted student. For years, Elizabeth Finch taught an adult education class called Culture and Civilization about the Roman Empire. Neil, the book’s narrator, takes her class and is smitten, calling her “the most grownup person I have known.” His unlikely crush goes largely unrequited--after the class is over, the two meet for lunch once or twice a year--but when Elizabeth dies, Neil is surprised to find that she has left her library of books and papers to him. He’s initially puzzled, but dives into her life and work in an attempt to learn more about the woman who fascinated him, and about himself.