Hotel du Lac is a charming and touching story of a woman exiled to Switzerland to reassess her life after a scandal at home. Beautifully written, insightful – it is book to be enjoyed for its long-lasting charm and insightful observations.
- best book club reads -
HOTEL DU LAC
BY ANITA BROOKNER
Our Missed Opportunity is a modern classic and the 1984 Booker Prize winner (a surprising recipient at the time). Hotel du Lac by Anita Brookner is a touching, witty, melancholic and beautifully written story about the search for love set in the 1950s.
Edith Hope, a writer of romantic fiction is shockingly still single in her late thirties. She arrives at the Hotel du Lac on the shores of a Swiss lake at the end of the tourist season. Hotel du Lac is run by the retired but active M Huber – it is a very traditional, well respected establishment clearly in its own time warp. We soon discover Edith has been sent here by her friends to escape a scandal back home. Whilst Edith relaxes into the hotel’s daily routines, so she begins to study her fellow guests and their reasons for residing at the hotel. These include the extremely wealthy and domineering Mrs Pusey who is shadowed by her seemingly submissive but well-presented daughter, Jennifer - every grand entrance they make seems to arrive with a fanfare; the Comtesse de Bonneuil - a wealthy and lonely widow, and Monica, the ‘thin woman with the dog’ who has an eating disorder. But it is the appearance of Mr Neville which has the possibility of changing everything for Edith. As the story unfolds, we learn how Edith humiliated herself back in London and wonder if she will return a new and enlightened person.
Brookner writes with a wonderfully sharp wit and honesty drawing you into her characters as they evolve throughout the story. She crafts Edith as a young woman, outwardly timid and conforming, yet in reality a self-reliant and assured individual who ultimately recognises that if she can’t find true love then she wants to be accepted as a single woman. The irony of Edith’s idealistic writing choice adding to the absurdity of her predicament. The book addresses different kinds of loneliness, the search for love and whether one should be pressured into accepting an alternative arrangement. This is not a page turner of a read, it is a book to be enjoyed for its long-lasting charm, insightful observations and beautiful prose.