Hotel du Lac

Hotel du Lac

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Overview

In the novel that won her the Booker Prize and established her international reputation, Anita Brookner finds a new vocabulary for framing the eternal question "Why love?" It tells the story of Edith Hope, who writes romance novels under a psudonym. When her life begins to resemble the plots of her own novels, however, Edith flees to Switzerland, where the quiet luxury of the Hotel du Lac promises to resore her to her senses.

But instead of peace and rest, Edith finds herself sequestered at the hotel with an assortment of love's casualties and exiles. She also attracts the attention of a worldly man determined to release her unused capacity for mischief and pleasure. Beautifully observed, witheringly funny, Hotel du Lac is Brookner at her most stylish and potently subversive.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780679759324
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/15/1995
Series: Vintage Contemporaries Series
Pages: 192
Sales rank: 141,955
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.53(d)

About the Author

Anita Brookner was born in London and, apart from several years in Paris, was a lifelong Londoner. She trained as an art historian and taught at the Courtauld Institute of Art until 1988. She is the author of twenty-seven books, including the Booker Prize–winning novel Hotel Du Lac. She died in 2016.

Read an Excerpt

One

From the window all that could be seen was a receding area of grey. It was to be supposed that beyond the grey garden, which seemed to sprout nothing but the stiffish leaves of some unfamiliar plant, lay the vast grey lake, spreading like an anaesthetic towards the invisible further shore, and beyond that, in imagination only, yet verified by the brochure, the peak of the Dent d'Oche, on which snow might already be slightly and silently falling. For it was late September, out of season; the tourists had gone, the rates were reduced, and there were few inducements for visitors in this small town at the water's edge, whose inhabitants, uncommunicative to begin with, were frequently rendered taciturn by the dense cloud that descended for days at a time and then vanished without warning to reveal a new landscape, full of colour and incident: boats skimming on the lake, passengers at the landing stage, an open air market, the outline of the gaunt remains of a thirteenth-century castle, seams of white on the far mountains, and on the cheerful uplands to the south a rising backdrop of apple trees, the fruit sparkling with emblematic significance. For this was a land of prudently harvested plenty, a land which had conquered human accidents, leaving only the weather distressingly beyond control.

Edith Hope, a writer of romantic fiction under a more thrusting name, remained standing at the window, as if an access of good will could pierce the mysterious opacity with which she had been presented, although she had been promised a tonic cheerfulness, a climate devoid of illusions, an utterly commonsensical, not to say pragmatic, set of circumstances-quiet hotel, excellent cuisine, long walks, lack of excitement, early nights-in which she could be counted upon to retrieve her serious and hard-working personality and to forget the unfortunate lapse which had led to this brief exile, in this apparently unpopulated place, at this slowly darkening time of the year, when she should have been at home . . . But it was home, or, rather, 'home', which had become inimical all at once, so that she had acquiesced, rather frightened at what was happening to her, when her friends had suggested a short break, and had allowed herself to be driven to the airport by her friend and neighbour, Penelope Milne, who, tight-lipped, was prepared to forgive her only on condition that she disappeared for a decent length of time and came back older, wiser, and properly apologetic. For I am not to be allowed my lapse, as if I were an artless girl, she thought; and why should I be? I am a serious woman who should know better and am judged by my friends to be past the age of indiscretion; several people have remarked upon my physical resemblance to Virginia Woolf; I am a householder, a ratepayer, a good plain cook, and a deliverer of typescripts well before the deadline; I sign anything that is put in front of me; I never telephone my publisher; and I make no claims for my particular sort of writing, although I understand that it is doing quite well. I have held this rather dim and trusting personality together for a considerable length of time, and although I have certainly bored others I was not to be allowed to bore myself. My profile was deemed to be low and it was agreed by those who thought they knew me that it should stay that way. And no doubt after a curative stay in this grey solitude (and I notice that the leaves of that plant are quite immobile) I shall be allowed back, to resume my peaceable existence, and to revert to what I was before I did that apparently dreadful thing, although, frankly, once I had done it I didn't give it another thought. But I do now. Yes.

Turning her back on the toneless expanse beyond the window, she contemplated the room, which was the colour of over-cooked veal: veal-coloured carpet and curtains, high, narrow bed with veal-coloured counterpane, small austere table with a correct chair placed tightly underneath it, a narrow, costive wardrobe, and, at a very great height above her head, a tiny brass chandelier, which, she knew, would eventually twinkle drearily with eight weak bulbs. Stiff white lace curtains, providing even more protection against the sparse daylight, could be parted to allow access, through long windows, to a narrow strip of balcony on which were placed a green metal table and chair. I shall be able to write there when the weather is fine, she thought, and moved to her bag to extract two long folders, one of which contained the first chapter of Beneath the Visiting Moon, on which she planned to work calmly throughout this curious hiatus in her life. But it was to the other folder that her hands went and, on opening it, she moved instinctively to the table and was soon seated on the unyielding chair, her pen uncapped, her surroundings ignored.

'My dearest David (she wrote),

'A cold coming I had of it. Penelope drove fast and kept her eyes grimly ahead, as if escorting a prisoner from the dock to a maximum security wing. I was disposed to talk-it is not every day that I get on an aeroplane and the pills I had got from the doctor had the effect of making me rather loquacious-but my intervention did not seem to be too welcome. Anyway, she relented once we were at Heathrow and found me a trolley for my bag and told me where I could get a cup of coffee, and suddenly she was gone and I felt terrible, not sad but light-headed and rather entertaining and with no one to talk to. I drank my coffee and paced around and tried to absorb all the details, as people think writers do (except you, my darling, who never think about it at all) and suddenly I caught sight of myself in the glass in the Ladies and saw my extremely correct appearance and thought, I should not be here! I am out of place! Milling crowds, children crying, everyone intent on being somewhere else, and here was this mild-looking, slightly bony woman in a long cardigan, distant, inoffensive, quite nice eyes, rather large hands and feet, meek neck, not wanting to go anywhere, but having given my word that I would stay away for a month until everyone decides that I am myself again. For a moment I panicked, for I am myself now, and was then, although this fact was not recognized. Not drowning, but waving.

'Anyway, I got over that, though it was not easy, and joined the most reliable set of people I could find, knowing, without bothering to ask, that they were bound to be going to Switzerland, and very soon I was on the plane and a quite charming man sat next to me and told me about this conference he was attending in Geneva. I deduced that he was a doctor; in fact, I had him down as a specialist in tropical diseases, particularly as he told me that he did most of his work in Sierra Leone, but it turned out that he had something to do with tungsten. So much for the novelist's famed powers of imagination. Nevertheless I felt a bit better, and he told me about his wife and daughters and how he was flying back to them in two days' time to have a weekend at home before he goes back to Sierra Leone. And within an extraordinarily short time we were there (I notice that I say 'there' and not 'here') and he put me in a taxi, and after about half an hour I ended up here (and it is beginning to be 'here' rather than 'there') and very soon I shall have to unpack and wash and tidy my hair and go downstairs and try to find a cup of tea.

'The place seems to be deserted. I noticed only one elderly woman as I came in, very small, with a face like a bulldog, and legs so bowed that she seemed to throw herself from side to side in her effort to get ahead, but doing so with such grim conviction that I instinctively got out of the way. She walked with a stick and wore one of those net veils on her head covered with small blue velvet bows. I had her down as a Belgian confectioner's widow, but the boy carrying my bags nodded vestigially and murmured 'Madame la Comtesse' as she rocked past. So much for the novelist's famed powers, etc. In any event I was processed so speedily into this room (almost induced into it) that I couldn't take in anything else. It seems quiet, warm, fairly spacious. The weather might, I suppose, be described as calm.

'I think about you all the time. I try to work out where you are, but this is rather difficult, surrounded as I am by the time change, minimal though it is, and the lingering effects of my pills, and all these sad cypresses. In a manner of speaking. But tomorrow is Friday, and when it begins to get dark I shall be able to imagine you getting in the car and driving to the cottage. And then, of course, the weekend, about which I try not to think. You cannot know . . .'

At this point she put down her pen and massaged her eyes briefly, sitting for a moment with her elbows on the table and her head bent into her hands. Then, blinking, she took up her pen again and continued her letter.

'Ridiculous to tell you to take care of yourself, because you never think of all the mild precautions that others take, and in any case there is nothing I can do to make you. My dear life, as my father used to call my mother, I miss you so much.'

She remained seated at the table for a few minutes, then took a long breath, and put the cap back on her pen. Tea, she thought. I need tea. And then a walk, a very long walk along the lake shore, and then a bath, and change into my blue dress, and by that time I shall be ready to make the entrance, always so difficult to negotiate, into the dining room. And then there is all the business of the meal to get through, which will take a bit of time, and after that I shall sit around and talk to someone, it hardly matters to whom, if only to the bulldog lady. And I need an early night, so that won't be too bad. In fact I am quite tired already. She yawned until her eyes watered, and then stood up.

Unpacking took a few minutes. Superstitiously, she left the bulk of her clothes in her bag, signifying to herself that she could be off in a few minutes if the chance arose, although knowing that everything would stay there and be hopelessly creased into the bargain. It had ceased to matter. Her hairbrush and nightgown were carried into the bathroom. She surveyed her appearance, which seemed to be no different, and then, retrieving bag and key, she stepped out into a corridor vibrant with absence. A pale light filtered through a large window over the landing. The walls seemed to enshrine a distant memory of substantial meals. There was nobody about, although through a door further along the corridor she could hear the faint sound of a radio.

The Hotel du Lac (Famille Huber) was a stolid and 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 of tourism. It had made little effort to smarten itself up for the passing trade which it had always despised. Its furnishings, although austere, were of excellent quality, its linen spotless, its service impeccable. Its reputation among knowledgeable professionals attracted apprentices of good character who had a serious interest in the hotel trade, but this was the only concession it made to a recognition of its own resources. As far as guests were concerned, it took a perverse pride in its very absence of attractions, so that any visitor mildly looking for a room would be puzzled and deflected by the sparseness of the terrace, the muted hush of the lobby, the absence of piped music, Public telephones, advertisements for scenic guided tours, or notice boards directing one to the amenities of the town. There was no sauna, no hairdresser, and certainly no glass cases displaying items of jewellery; the bar was small and dark, and its austerity did not encourage people to linger. It was implied that prolonged drinking, whether for purposes of business or as a personal indulgence, was not comme il faut, and if thought absolutely necessary should be conducted either in the privacy of one's suite or in the more popular establishments where such leanings were not unknown. Chambermaids were rarely encountered after ten o'clock in the morning, by which time all household noises had to be silenced; no vacuuming was heard, no carts of dirty linen were glimpsed, after that time. A discreet rustle announced the reappearance of the maids to turn down the beds and tidy the rooms once the guests had finished changing to go down to dinner. The only publicity from which the hotel could not distance itself was the word of mouth recommendations of patrons of long standing.

What it had to offer was a mild form of sanctuary, an assurance of privacy, and the protection and the discretion that attach themselves to blamelessness. This last quality being less than attractive to a surprising number of people, the Hotel du Lac was usually half empty, and at this time of the year, at the end of the season, was resigned to catering for a mere handful of guests before closing its doors for the winter. The few visitors who were left from the modest number who had taken their decorous holiday in the high summer months were, however, treated with the same courtesy and deference as if they were treasured patrons of long standing, which, in some cases, they were. Naturally, no attempt was made to entertain them. Their needs were provided for and their characters perused with equal care. It was assumed that they would live up to the hotel's standards, just as the hotel would live up to theirs. And if any problems were encountered, those problems would be dealt with discreetly. In this way the hotel was known as a place which was unlikely to attract unfavourable attention, a place guaranteed to provide a restorative sojourn for those whom life had mistreated or merely fatigued. Its name and situation figured in the card indexes of those who business it is to know such things. Certain doctors knew it, many solicitors knew it, brokers and accountants knew it. Travel agents did not know it, or had forgotten it. Those families who benefit from the periodic absence of one of their more troublesome members treasured it. And the word got round.

Reading Group Guide

The questions, discussion topics, and author biography that follow are intended to enhance your reading of Anita Brookner's Hotel du Lac. We hope that they will give you a number of interesting angles from which to consider this elegant, deceptively simple novel, which has become a classic in the years since its publication.

1. Edith describes her own personality as "rather dim and trusting" [p. 9]. Do the events of the book bear her assessment out, or does her character prove to be darker and more subversive than she herself might care to admit? Is her willingness to be commandeered by Mrs. Pusey, Monica, or Penelope an indication of passivity, or does it represent a need in its own right?

2. What the Hotel du Lac offers, Edith says, is "a mild form of sanctuary" [p. 14], but she later refers to it as an "institution" [p. 106]. Which comparison is more accurate? Have the Englishwomen at the hotel been cast off, as Edith suggests, or are they seeking refuge?

3. Is Edith an "unreliable narrator"--that is, do we have to be wary of taking her narration and interpretation of events at face value? Are there areas of her life about which she is not willing to tell the truth, even in this intimate narrative? If so, is this apparent only when we look at her letters to David? Can the letters be seen as an edited version of the "truthful" story given the reader, or is the narrative itself unreliable and evasive?

4. How much about David's character can be gleaned from Brookner's narrative? Why is a man of David's type so attractive to Edith? Is his very inaccessibility part of the attraction? What sort of marriage do David and his wife share?

5. Edith's friends accuse her of being a romantic. Do you find this assessment to be accurate? Why has Edith chosen to be a writer of romance novels, and how does this choice affect her actions? How does the "romance" theme fit into Brookner's ending? Is Edith's return to David at the end of the novel a romantic or an anti-romantic gesture? Do you believe that once Edith returns to London, she will continue to produce the same type of fiction?

6. Edith tells Mr. Neville that she thinks about happiness "all the time" [p. 94]. She also sketches out for him her own idea of happiness. Does Mr. Neville, in spite of his failure to win her over to his way of thinking, nonetheless influence her in making her adjust her ideas of happiness in the direction of his own? Is the ideal of "happiness" as central to her life after her encounter with him as it was before? Has her definition of it changed?

7. In her dealings with Monica and with Iris and Jennifer Pusey, Edith adopts the stance of an ironic observer who sees all the grotesque elements of the people around her. Do you believe these people to be as grotesque and ridiculous as Edith describes them, or are we perhaps seeing them through Edith's own distorting lens? If so, why does Edith feel the need to distance people and make them less human? Does Edith intentionally attach herself to people such as Penelope--apparently her best friend but whom she also deeply scorns--who make her feel superior? How much real insight do you think Edith has into Penelope's character? Does Edith tend to "make up" characters not only in her fiction but in her own life? What about Geoffrey Long? Are we, as readers, ever accorded a glimpse of Geoffrey as a real person who feels pain or love? Why does Edith feel compelled to mock him?

8. How has Edith's unhappy childhood contributed toward making her who she is as an adult? It is clear that her mother has warped her feelings. In what way has Edith accepted the definitions of sex, femininity, and motherhood offered by her mother? Is her dislike of other women a legacy from her mother, or is it due to real duplicity and competitiveness in the women of her acquaintance? Is the apparently strong bond between Iris and Jennifer finally attractive to Edith, or does she find it fearsome and devouring?

9. "To Penelope, men were conquests, attributes, but they were also enemies....She considered men to be a contemptible sex" [pp. 57-58]. Penelope and Edith's other women friends in London play a conventional sexual game with very firm though unwritten "rules." What are those rules and in what way has Edith transgressed them? Is Edith doomed to remain an emotional outsider unless she conforms to these rules?

10. One technique that Brookner utilizes expertly is that of making the landscape and the weather mirror the central character's feelings. How is this technique employed in Hotel du Lac? Is the landscape, including the hotel itself, a blank slate on which Edith imposes her own emotions, or does its peculiar character actually impose itself upon Edith's own mind?

11. Edith spends much space in her letters to David describing people's clothing. What does this emphasis say about Edith's relationship with David? Edith believes that her "brief" for David is "to amuse, to divert, to relax" [p. 114]. What does this tell us about David and about Edith herself? Why does Edith feel unable to mail her letters to David? Why, knowing that she will not mail them, does she feel compelled to write them? How does the letter announcing her engagement to Neville differ from the earlier ones in tone and content? In her telegram to David at the end of the novel, why does Edith change the words "coming home" to "returning" [p. 184]?

12. Edith's friends tell her that she looks like Virginia Woolf, and this resemblance has colored her own view of herself. What does Virginia Woolf represent to Edith? Why is this resemblance flattering to her? What emotional limitations does it encourage her to give in to? What is the significance of Edith's pen name, Vanessa Wilde?

13. Though Edith seldom discusses sex even with herself, sex is at the novel's very core. How have Edith's sexual feelings molded her life? How do they lead to her final decision? What importance does sex have in Edith's relationships with Neville and with Geoffrey? How does the consciousness of sex affect her dealings with the women characters in the book?

14. The first few pages of Edith's narrative contain sidelong references to works by Yeats, Eliot, Shakespeare, and other authors. What does Brookner reveal about Edith's character by giving her this propensity?

15. Edith readily admits to preferring men to women, but as the novel progresses, we see the beginnings of a more inclusive, sophisticated attitude, a willingness to include women in her emotional world, even to offer them her friendship. How does this manifest itself in the text?

16. What does Edith's final decision to go back to David signify? Do you believe that it constitutes triumph, defeat, or resignation for Edith? In rejecting Neville, what interpretation of herself does she reject? What longed-for things does she give up? You might want to refer to another of Anita Brookner's recent novels, Lewis Percy, which handles a similar situation; the novels of Barbara Pym are also of interest in examining such questions.

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Hotel du Lac 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 29 reviews.
NatalieTahoe More than 1 year ago
Hotel du Lac, by Anita Brookner surprised me. The first forty or so pages, while beautifully written, were a tad tough to meander through at times. But then, oh then, all of a sudden, and at some point I can't recall, I was quite happy -- it pulled me in and although it's a quiet and contemplative story, it was really quite interesting and I felt at home with it. Edith Hope is a romance writer who writes under another name -- she's accomplished, but to be honest, she writes about feelings and events that she's never sure she'll ever have, or at least have forever. She's withdrawn, and doesn't fit with her "friends." Edith is sent away from "civilized" society in London to a quaint and quiet hotel in Switzerland following a scandal that it has been deemed should not occur amongst polite and learned men and women. While there, she encounters a sad variety of characters that initially seem almost so uninteresting, that they are interesting. Eventually, you are drawn into each one, into their nuances, their sad or internally destructive personalities. While one character, Mrs. Pusey initially impresses upon Edith that she is kind and lovely, it soon becomes evident that she's really just lacking in the same things that most of the hotel guests are without as well -- after all, why are they all sequestered in this hotel, away from family and friends, during a quiet time of season? It seemed to be that they all were suffering in some way. Do not expect a flurry of events in the winner of the Man Booker Prize of 1984. Expect instead a quiet discussion, a studied review of a writer's perspective of those she meets and interacts with, amidst the background of an incredible hotel. There is not a hurry from one thing to another. It is a slow exercise of evaluation and word usage to describe each scene, moment, person. Could it be considered tedious and boring to some? Perhaps. Could it also be viewed as deceptively pleasing, slowly building the undercurrent of anticipation for something, something brilliant and cunning to breach the water line and unfold its secret? Yes. At times, it was a bit humorous, but I found it to be an overall sad book, about people who were sad and who either were forced to be in exile by others, or simply had nowhere else that they could go. It's an insightful and thoughtful novel on love, loss, and regret. Although I wouldn't recommend it for everyone, I would say that if you like a quiet novel that delivers an introspective view on one's own life, then this sad little beauty is a book for you.
beckyclayton on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Eight pages into Hotel du Lac, Anita Brookner writes, "Edith Hope, a writer of romantic fiction under a more thrusting name..." As soon as I read that, I knew that I would enjoy this book. Brookner's subtle wit works perfectly in this restrained story about love -- between lovers, between married couples, between mother and daughter -- with a little lust thrown in for good measure. This is one that I'll read again and again -- Brookner is such a great writer that I'm sure that I've missed some of the nuances of this novel.
coffeeandabookchick on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Hotel du Lac, by Anita Brookner surprised me. The first forty or so pages, while beautifully written, were a tad tough to meander through at times. But then, oh then, all of a sudden, and at some point I can't recall, I was quite happy -- it pulled me in and although it's a quiet and contemplative story, it was really quite interesting and I felt at home with it.Edith Hope is a romance writer who writes under another name -- she's accomplished, but to be honest, she writes about feelings and events that she's never sure she'll ever have, or at least have forever. She's withdrawn, and doesn't fit with her "friends."Edith is sent away from "civilized" society in London to a quaint and quiet hotel in Switzerland following a scandal that it has been deemed should not occur amongst polite and learned men and women. While there, she encounters a sad variety of characters that initially seem almost so uninteresting, that they are interesting. Eventually, you are drawn into each one, into their nuances, their sad or internally destructive personalities. While one character, Mrs. Pusey initially impresses upon Edith that she is kind and lovely, it soon becomes evident that she's really just lacking in the same things that most of the hotel guests are without as well -- after all, why are they all sequestered in this hotel, away from family and friends, during a quiet time of season? It seemed to be that they all were suffering in some way.Do not expect a flurry of events in the winner of the Man Booker Prize of 1984. Expect instead a quiet discussion, a studied review of a writer's perspective of those she meets and interacts with, amidst the background of an incredible hotel. There is not a hurry from one thing to another. It is a slow exercise of evaluation and word usage to describe each scene, moment, person. Could it be considered tedious and boring to some? Perhaps. Could it also be viewed as deceptively pleasing, slowly building the undercurrent of anticipation for something, something brilliant and cunning to breach the water line and unfold its secret? Yes.At times, it was a bit humorous, but I found it to be an overall sad book, about people who were sad and who either were forced to be in exile by others, or simply had nowhere else that they could go. It's an insightful and thoughtful novel on love, loss, and regret. Although I wouldn't recommend it for everyone, I would say that if you like a quiet novel that delivers an introspective view on one's own life, then this sad little beauty is a book for you.Every word is quotable in this beautiful and very short book, but this one I found delightful:He was a man of few words, but those few words were judiciously selected, weighed for quality, and delivered with expertise. Edith, used to the ruminative monologues that most people consider to be adequate for the purposes of rational discourse, used, moreover, to concocting the cunning and even learned periods which the characters in her books so spontaneously uttered, leaned back in her chair and smiled. The sensation of being entertained by words was one which she encountered all too rarely. People expect writers to entertain them, she reflected. They consider that writers should be gratified simply by performing their task to the audience's satisfaction. Like sycophants at court in the Middle Ages, dwarves, jongleurs. And what about us? Nobody thinks about entertaining us.I look forward to reading more Anita Brookner novels. Particularly when I learned from Thomas at My Porch that Ms. Brookner is now in her eighties and has written a book a year since her first published fiction novel in her early fifties.
janismack on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was well written and thoughtful. The main character Edith showed me that self respect is more important than anything.
mahallett on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
very good but as usual because i listened to it, i missed stuff. edith is a good character lonely but not lonely like most of us. the novel has interesting perceptions of the characters.
Kasthu on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
When Edith Hope, a romance novelist, retreats to the Hotel du Lac in Switzerland, she goes there at the request of her friends. An "event" in her near past has led her friends to be concerned for her mental health. The story revolves around the people she meets at the hotel: a wealthy jetsetter and her grown daughter; an aristocratic beauty; and a gentleman with whom she quickly becomes friends.It¿s late August and the offseason at the Hotel du Lac, and everything seems to wilt in the heat, even the waiters in the empty salon. There¿s an air of sadness pervading this novel, not helped much by the fact that Edith herself is a rather sad character. She¿s introverted, morose, and rather pessimistic. Edith comes across strongly as a character, although I could identify with her a little bit. Edith certainly lives in her head a lot, so it was interesting to see how Mr. Neville and the other guests draw her out a little bit more. At the same time, I enjoyed watching her observations of her fellow hotel guests, especially considering that Edith is a writer. As such, she¿s supposed to be observant, yet, for example, she has to re-guess Mrs. Pusey¿s age over and over. So it¿s interesting to watch how Edith¿s prejudices shape how she sees the insulated world of the Hotel du Lac.Like other readers, I was thrown off by the time frame of this book; I kept feeling it was 1950s or 60s, although I think this book was meant to be a bit timeless. The thing that dates the book, in my opinion, is everyone¿s reactions to ¿the event:¿ for the present time or even the `80s, when the book was published, it doesn¿t seem all that shocking; in fact, many people make that kind of decision every day.In all, this was a highly reflective book; there are some fabulous descriptions of the Hotel du Lac and the town it¿s situated near. I¿ve not read any of Anita Brookner¿s books before, but I¿ll do so again, since I thought this was an excellent book.
Miro on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The book does remind me of Jane Austen although in a more polished form. Its a story about women, (men have walk on parts), in an unashamedly upper middle class setting. They use their plentiful free time to judge each other on moral and society benchmarks. I don't want to spoil the clever plot so let's just say that the principal character (Edith Hope) takes the less than ideal best available choice.A beautifully written book about love and the lack of love.
stubbyfingers on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the story of a woman who stays in a hotel and how she interacts with the five other guests there. There isn't much else to the plot, besides one little twist that caught me off guard. I was somewhat bothered because I could never tell what decade this was supposed to be set in. Reading this book I felt like I was reading someone's blog. You know the type of blog I'm talking about--the type where the writer gives you all sorts of details about what happens in their day to day life when really what's happening in their life isn't very interesting at all. The only reason you keep reading is because every once in a while they come up with some pearl that makes you think, "Hey, me too!" The only difference is that the author of this book seems to have a larger vocabulary than the average writer of your daily life blog. And I didn't have very many "Hey, me too!" moments. In fact the only real "Hey, me too!" moment I had was when she wrote, "My idea of absolute happiness is to sit in a hot garden all day, reading, or writing, utterly safe in the knowledge that the person I love will come home to me in the evening. Every evening." But then I had to qualify it by thinking that I wouldn't want the garden to be too hot (and wouldn't it be nice if there was a swimming pool in it?) and I really would like to get out and go for a hike every once in a while, too. Perhaps I'm just too happy in my current life situation to take this story very seriously. I found it to be somewhat depressing. And then when there was a glimmer of hope and salvation, it was ripped away quite unceremoniously. And yet, although my brain tells me to give this book three stars, my heart still wants to give it four. I'll go with my heart on this one because at least the book is short.
writestuff on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
'Edith Hope, a writer of romantic fiction under a more thrusting name, remained standing at the window, as if an access of good will could pierce the mysterious opacity with which she had been presented, although she had been promised a tonic cheerfulness, a climate devoid of illusions, an utterly commonsensical, not to say pragmatic, set of circumstances - quiet hotel, excellent cuisine, long walks, lack of excitement, early nights - in which she could be counted upon to retrieve her serious and hard-working personality and to forget the unfortunate lapse which had led to this brief exile, in this apparently unpopulated place, at this slowly darkening time of the year, when she should have been at home¿' -From Hotel Du Lac, page 8-And so begins Anita Brookner¿s Booker Award winning novel. Edith Hope finds herself banished to a hotel in Switzerland to ponder her life and recover from a romantic stumble. Once there, she meets the other hotel visitors - a cast of characters with their own secrets, desires, and weaknesses.Iris and Jennifer Pusey are a mother-daughter ensemble who fill their lives with the superficial glee of material gain. Edith observes their lives with a wry humor.'Behind their extreme pleasantness there lies something entrenched, non-negotiable, as if they can really take no one seriously but themselves. As if they feel sorry for anyone who is denied the possibility of being a Pusey. And this, of course, is, by definition, everyone.' -From Hotel Du Lac, page 109-Also residing in the hotel is the elderly Mme de Bonneuil who has been abandoned by her son and selfish daughter-in-law; Monica who suffers an eating disorder and dotes on her spoiled dog; and Mr. Neville - a blunt man convinced that self-centeredness is the key to happiness.Anita Brookner weaves a story which is introspective and beautifully developed about a woman searching for herself while struggling to find love and acceptance. Despite its serious undertones, Hotel Du Lac is surprisingly funny. Edith embodies the idea of feminism, liberation and romantic ideals - a woman who is torn between her fantasies of being swept away by romance, while at the same time desiring her independence.'[...] if she¿s all that liberated, why doesn¿t she go down to the bar and pick someone up? I¿m sure it¿s entirely possible. It¿s just that most women don¿t do it. And why don¿t they do it?¿ she asked, with a sudden return of assurance. `It¿s because they prefer the old myths, when it comes to the crunch. They want to believe that they are going to be discovered, looking their best, behind closed doors, just when they thought that all was lost, by a man who has battled across continents, abandoning whatever he may have had in his in-tray, to reclaim them.' -From Hotel Du Lac, page 27-The tension in the novel comes from the characters¿ releationships to each other which ultimately help Edith to make a momentous decision.I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. Brookner writes with elegant, passionate prose and leaves the reader feeling deeply satisfied.Highly recommended.
karenmerguerian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Well, I was impatient to find out what happened so I probably read it too quickly and missed a lot of what was going on under the surface. There are a few interesting tropes, first, the assemblage of characters and the mystery around them, like an Agatha Christie story, and then the unfolding as we find out the full story of why the heroine is really there (that part I thoroughly enjoyed), and the various backstories of all the other characters. Sometimes Brookner's characters are really well-drawn. I love the way she sketches their outlines and then fills them in, little by little over the course of the novel, in all their facets and complexities. In this book, she did that with the mother and daughter. My issue with Brookner is always my fundamental inability to identify with her dodgy and introverted--yet supposedly passionate-to-the-point-of-self-destruction heroes and heroines.
kambrogi on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Edith Hope has arrived at the crux of her life. She has been sent off for a holiday alone at the Hotel du Lac in Switzerland during the off-season, in order to ¿get back to herself,¿ after her recent uncharacteristically scandalous behavior. A romance writer, Edith is a woman who has spent her life searching for love, and yet she has never fit comfortably into the world where she searches for it. This slim volume tells the story of her thoughtful days at the hotel, the various foils she encounters there, the lessons she learns and the final decision she makes. Like Virginia Woolf¿s Mrs. Dalloway, it investigates a woman¿s perceptions of her life, past and present, and how they may or may not propel her forward. It is a brilliant piece of writing and a small literary treasure. Highly recommended.
bohemima on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I loved this brief story about Edith Hope, a woman who has been banished to an off-season hotel in Switzerland for reasons which aren't clear. Edith's exploration of the hotel and her interactions with its inhabitants form the core of a novel of self-discovery. Amazing characterizations, restrained but beautiful and telling description, and Edith's slow awakening are wonderfully portrayed. Most highly recommended.
GCPLreader on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
So much to reflect on with this Booker Prize winning novel. Edith, a romance novelist, is hiding out at the Hotel Du Lac in Switzerland until the furor over her earlier rash decision has quieted down. The hotel is populated with the most eccentric characters and Edith is fascinated by the women she meets. The novel questions whether Edith, a shy, mild-mannered woman, needs to loosen up a bit and be more assertive in order to find love and fulfillment. The novel's resolution was just perfect and wholly satisfying (Brookner leaves Edith's future up in the air). I loved the smart writing here but I couldn't quite place the time. In my mind, Brookner was describing say the 1930's, yet there are references to 1980's fashions. No doubt the author deliberately wants to leave an impression of timelessness. And indeed the Hotel Du Lac does feel like a throwback to an earlier time and succeeds because of its thought-provoking modern feminist sensibilities.
czick on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book found me, lying on the sidewalk one night as I was walking around Tribeca in New York. For some reason this lonely story resonated perfectly, one of those perfect books found at the right time.
PaperbackPirate on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The main character travels to Hotel du Lac in Switzerland to recover from something "Terrible" she had done. During her stay there she meets several interesting characters and through her interaction with them takes a self-reflective journey. Overall I felt the book was o.k. but it didn't end the way I thought it was going to which made me like it more.
mausergem on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Edith who looks like Virginia Woolf and is a author of popular fiction novels, has been ostracized by her circle of friends in London and is spending time in exile at the Hotel du Lac in Switzerland where she meets other guests women all and one man. In the course of the novel we find out about the cause of her banishment and about the sad sad lives of the other guests.The setting and the characters of this book are alien to me but still I came to love and understand all of them. That was the beauty of the narrative for me. A lovely book.
LizzieD on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I did enjoy this bitter-sweet little book in which Edith Hope moves from hope to despair and on to reality (with hope?) at an end-of-season resort hotel in Switzerland. The characters are carefully drawn, and I appreciate Edith who ultimately chooses to be who she is rather than to compromise for various comforts offered by the people who surround her.
lauralkeet on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Edith Hope was sent to the Hotel du Lac by well-meaning friends, in the hopes that the surroundings will bring her peace after an upsetting romantic incident. The hotel is in a Swiss resort area, on a lake near Geneva: "What it had to offer was a mild form of sanctuary ... a place guaranteed to provide a restorative sojourn for those whom life had mistreated or merely fatigued." It is autumn, the tourists are gone, and the hotel has only a few guests. Upon arrival, Edith tentatively approaches the salon for tea:"As she descended the wide, shallow stairs Edith could hear well-behaved laughter echoing from some sort of salon ... then, as she approached, as if drawn to this sound, a sudden furious barking, high-pitched, peevish, boding ill for future peace."Edith's apprehension about the Hotel du Lac turns to fascination as she observes the other guests in the salon. Edith is a sensible sort, always clad in tweed and cardigans. She first becomes acquainted with Iris Pusey and her adult daughter, Jennifer, wealthy, fashionable women, mourning Iris' husband and feeding their emotional hunger by shopping in boutiques. They try to recruit Edith, but she is intimidated by their world: "Where they saw luxury goods, she saw only houses of detention." One by one we meet other guests: the aging Madame Bonneuil, Monica (the dog's owner), and Mr. Neville, who takes an interest in Edith.Meanwhile, Edith is longing for David, a married man with whom she had an affair. During her stay at Hotel du Lac, she half-heartedly attempts to purge the emotions surrounding this relationship. She is alternately fascinated and repulsed by Mr. Neville's attentions. Brookner's exquisite prose draws the reader right into the ambience of the Hotel and its day-to-day routines. And yet, as the autumn season draws to an end and the hotel prepares to close for the winter, Brookner throws in a few surprises that ultimately make for a very satisfying ending. Highly recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
momwifeattorneygolfer More than 1 year ago
if you like british fiction...barbard pym, david lodge, john mortimer, you will probably like this very very quiet, beautifully written novel..I go back to it every year. I have never had any luck giving it to someone who doesn't appreciate the british isles.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
HOTEL DU LAC isn't as great as her ALTERED STATES, but still rates *****. Her brilliant insightful writing examines a woman's choice between (1) marriage to a wonderful man, or (2) an incomplete on-the-sly relationship with the man who owns her heart. Indeed, men and women do make similar choices. A bold subject, in no way a 'woman's' novel. Gently persuasive; this book could change your life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She bolts back to EclipseClan camp without a word.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you need anything else you know were to find me *smiles*