Hotel du Lac
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Hotel du Lac

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Winner of the Booker Prize 'The Hotel du Lac was a dignified building, a house of repute, a traditional establishment, used to welcoming the prudent, the well-to-do, the retired, the self-effacing, the respected patrons of an earlier era' Into the rarefied atmosphere of the Hotel du Lac timidly walks Edith Hope, romantic novelist and holder of modest dreams. Edith has been exiled from home after embarrassing herself and her friends. She has refused to sacrifice her ideals and remains stubbornly single. But among the pampered women and minor nobility Edith finds Mr Neville, and her chance to escape from a life of humiliating loneliness is renewed ...'A classic ...a book which will be read with pleasure a hundred years from now' Spectatorshow more

Product details

  • Paperback | 192 pages
  • 128 x 192 x 18mm | 140.62g
  • Penguin Books Ltd
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0140147470
  • 9780140147476
  • 14,059

Review Text

Edith Hope, 39, "a writer of romantic fiction under a more thrusting name," has come to a small, quiet Swiss hotel in the off-season - to recover from (or atone for) some unspecified, scandalous "lapse" in her London behavior. As in Brookner's Look at Me (1983), this Jamesian, Woolfian heroine is unmarried, wary, cerebral - torn between involvement and detachment, self-dramatization and self-deprecation. At first, then, while writing letters to her married lover back home, Edith plays the role of the watcher, becoming the confidante to two hotel guests - each of whom represents one womanly approach to the problem of romance: regal widow Mrs. Pusey - gloriously well-preserved at 79, accompanied by her plumply sexy daughter - is "completely preoccupied with the femininity which has always provided her with life's chief delights"; on the other hand, shrill Monica, rebellious and quasi-anorexic wife of a nobleman, offers "the rueful world of defiance, of taunting, of teasing, of spoiling for a fight." And a third alternative to Edith's own romanticism is provided by enigmatic guest Mr. Neville, who urges her to adopt an "entirely selfish" approach to life and love. Edith considers all these possibilities - while recalling (and revealing) the details of that London "lapse": not showing up for her scheduled wedding to a bland, safe suitor. She receives another, odder marriage proposal from elegantly creepy Mr. Neville. ("You are a lady. . . As my wife, you will do very well. Unmarried, I'm afraid you will soon look a bit of a fool.") But finally, after a few more revelations, Edith will return to her romantic one-true-love. . . even though she's quite aware that it's illusory, half-unrequited, doomed. In many ways, this sad little comedy is less subtle, more artificial than Brookner's three previous, similar character-portraits: the themes are laid on thick, starting right off with Edith's surname and occupation; the James/Woolf echoes are blatantly arranged; the players (including Edith herself) are more types than credible characters. Still, for readers who relish a blend of extra-dry humor, tartly wistful introspection, and literary self-consciousness, this small entertainment - winner of England's Booker Prize - will be a delicate, provocative pleasure. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Review quote

A classic ... a book which will be read with pleasure a hundred years from now Spectator A smashing love story. It is very romantic. It is also humorous, witty, touching and formidably clever The Times Hotel du Lac is written with a beautiful grave formality, and it catches at the heart Observer She is one of the great writers of contemporary fiction Literary Reviewshow more

About Anita Brookner

Anita Brookner was born in south London in 1928, the daughter of a Polish immigrant family. She trained as an art historian, and worked at the Courtauld Institute of Art until her retirement in 1988. She published her first novel, A Start in Life, in 1981 and her twenty-fourth, Strangers, in 2009. Hotel du Lac won the 1984 Booker Prize. As well as fiction, Anita Brookner has published a number of volumes of art criticism.show more
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