Hotel Du Lac
Anita Brookner Pages: 184 Published: 1984
The book: Edith Hope lives in London and writes romance novels under the pen name Vanessa Wilde. After she has an “unfortunate lapse,” her friends send her off to the Hotel Du Lac in Switzerland to give her time to consider her behavior and see the error of her ways. But will she?
You might like it because: Brookner’s writing is elegant. She skillfully creates mood and sketches out the key characters beautifully. Edith’s observations of her fellow guests are a little acerbic and at times mildly amusing. There’s some very subtle dark humor at work here.
What did other people say?
“Brookner’s most absorbing novel…wryly realistic…graceful and attractive.”
– Anne Tyler, The New York Times Book Review
“A remarkable novel…Anita Brookner’s best.” – Victoria Glendinning, The Times (London)
Awards & Recognition:
1984 Booker Prize Winner
How quickly will you get into the book? On page 2 we learn that there was an “unfortunate lapse,” but not what that lapse was. Wanting to know kept me reading.
You might not like it because: It’s not a dramatic book. In some ways it is more of a character sketch of Edith who, it has to be said, is not a barrel of laughs. Sam Jordison of The Guardian (UK) referred to it as “….a study in melancholy.” So, if you are looking for drama, excitement, or something uplifting, don’t read this book.
What might you read next?
Edith, the main character in Hotel du Lac, is told she looks like Virginia Woolf. She even dresses like her, so why not read Woolf’s novel Mrs Dalloway?
Edith quotes the French writer Colette at one point in the story. Read one of her short novels, Gigi.
Brookner won the 1984 Booker Prize, but her win was controversial and many critics felt JG Ballard’s Empire of the Sun should have won. Decide for yourself.
Or, pick up Hotel De Dream, by Emma Tennant, where hotel occupants end up in each other’s dreams.