Monday, May 8, 2017

Hotel du Lac by Anita Brookner

I recently had a chance to read Anita Brookner's award winning Hotel du Lac (1984).  The novel tells the story of Edith Hope, attractive spinster and writer of romance novels (under a pseudonym). She's fled to the Hotel du Lac in Switzerland where she seeks rest and recuperation from her life in England after an event that has left her friends reeling. 

The Hotel du Lac is located near a Swiss river, providing beautiful views, places to walk, and lots of time for Edith to reflect. She tries to get the momentum going to work on her latest novel, but she spends most of her time writing letters to a past lover.

Life at the Hotel du Lac has slowed down since it's near the end of the season. There are several residents, all exiles of their own lives. Madame de Bonneuil, an elderly matron lives at the hotel and receives periodic visits from her son. The glamorous Monica has come to escape her difficult marriage. The vivacious Mrs. Pusey and her more reserved adult daughter, Jennifer, spend their days shopping. Then there is Mr. Neville, a charming older gentleman who spends time with Edith.  

As Edith relaxes into her life at the old fashioned Hotel du Lac, her observations of the guests change when she meets them. Some of these people hold grudges against one another, particularly Monica and the Puseys. When Edith makes the acquaintance of Mr. Neville, who after knowing Edith for a short time, decides he knows exactly what Edith needs to do with her life. But does he really know what's best?

Hotel du Lac is a short novel which contains eloquent and sometimes witty writing. The story feels old fashioned like something you'd find in a Barbara Pym novel, especially when we learn why Edith has fled England for the Hotel du Lac and why her friends are so unhappy with her. Hotel du Lac is a quiet but lovely novel and one I'd recommend.

Have you read Hotel du Lac or any of Anita Brookner's novels?

1 comment:

  1. I like old-fashioned stories so this one sounds good to me; I've never read any of Brookner's novels, but she's written a lot of them. I'll have to give one a try and see if I like it. :)