Dolly is a 1993 novel by Anita Brookner.
from the back of the book:
In her superbly accomplished new novel, Anita Brookner proves that she is our most profound observer of women's lives, posing questions about feminine identity and desire with a stylishness that conveys an almost sensual pleasure.I thought it was much less about Dolly than about Jane. I see it as a character study of Jane. I'm not seeing "love" here as much as "duty". I like the book and find Brookner -as always- a beautiful illuminator of character. Anita Brookner is a treasure, and I've enjoyed everything I've read by her so far.
From the moment Jane Manning first meets her aunt Dolly, she is both fascinated and appalled. When Jane is tactful and shy, Dolly is flamboyant and repentantly selfish, a connoisseur of fine things, an exploiter of wealthy people. But as the exigencies of family bring Jane and Dolly together, Brookner shows us that we may end up loving people we cannot bring ourselves to like -and that this paradox makes love all the more precious and miraculous.
Kirkus Reviews calls it a "memorably expressed but cramped vision of isolated women in a hostile world." Publishers Weekly says, "Brookner ... renders with impeccable finesse the complexities of female desire as she meditates on the emotional legacies left by mothers to daughters." The Independent has a positive review.
Brookner books I've read:
A Start in Life (1981, US title The Debut)
Hotel du Lac (1984)
A Misalliance (1986)
A Friend from England (1987)
Brief Lives (1990)
A Family Romance (1993, US title Dolly)
Altered States (1996)