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Hotel Du Lac by Anita Brookner

Hotel Du Lac (original 1984; edition 1984)

by Anita Brookner

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1,809613,865 (3.61)253
Title:Hotel Du Lac
Authors:Anita Brookner
Info:Jonathan Cape (1984), Hardcover
Collections:Your library

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Hotel du Lac by Anita Brookner (1984)



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Showing 1-5 of 58 (next | show all)
I am giving this book three stars because I found it easy to read and I loved Brookner's writing style The story was mediocre. Brookner assumes her readers are intelligent and uses the language to its fullest flourish. I adore reading books that drive me to the dictionary!

I felt quite like I knew these characters, as seen through the eyes of the protagonist, Edith Hope. As an author, she is a very astute observer of people, and the hotel gives her a small but interesting menagerie. Interestingly, she is keen on looking at others with a critical eye while dismissing her own indulgences until late in the story, where her self-reflection takes her to a crossroads.

It is worth the read, in that the less-than-200 pages will cost you only a few days. Brookner's writing style is a delight and this winner of the 1984 Man Booker prize will hold its own on your TBR list. ( )
  CarmenMilligan | Jan 18, 2016 |
Edith Hope is a woman of a “certain age,” who has been shipped off to the quiet, secluded Hotel du Lac to wait for some sort of scandal, in which she played a central role, to die down. She is morose, and rather lost – without any real purpose, except to wait for the hubbub to blow over. Despite her name, Edith really has no hope; she is bored and boring. She wants to be left alone, but she’s lonely. The other guests are similarly hiding or waiting for something to happen, and so the days pass. Most ironic, this grey little mouse of a woman writes romance novels for a living, but is unable to identify any real love in her own life.

One of my favorite passages comes when Edith is speaking with her editor (or publisher). She says that her readers love the fable of the tortoise and the hare, where the steady, practical tortoise wins every time. However, in truth, says Edith, it is the hare who wins; but the hares of this world are too busy with the spoils of their conquests to bother reading, so the books are aimed at the tortoise market.

I had to remind myself that the book was published in 1984, but even then, I doubted that the great scandal from which Edith is hiding was all that bad. Back in the mid 1980s, I had a friend who did the same thing (though not quite so late in the game), and there were no lasting repercussions. Maybe it’s the difference between Americans and British.

I thought some of the portrayals of the other guests, seen through Edith’s eyes, were spot on, but the shortness of the work really didn’t leave room for further exploration, and on the whole I felt the book suffered because of that. So while I enjoyed it, I wouldn’t recommend that you put it at the top of your reading list.
( )
  BookConcierge | Jan 13, 2016 |
I am totally bewildered by this book and the response to it. At least 3 readers I generally admire and agree with highly recommended it. I found it unbelievable from beginning to end. In fact, from cover to cover. The front cover proclaims it a "national best-seller"--really? why?-- and "Winner of the 1984 Booker Prize". What was the competition?? (OK, I looked it up---I haven't read any of that year's shortlisted works.) The back cover calls it "bewitching, magical" and likens its heroine to a Barbara Pym character. Sorry, Ms. Brookner. I've read Barbara Pym.... The characters seem at least 60 years out of time; the heroine's situation (and her allowing herself to be in it) incomprehensible to me; the prose wordy, repetitive, soporific. I finished it with a definite "The Emperor has no clothes" feeling. Under 200 pages, but not nearly far enough.

QUOTE: "My patience with this little comedy is wearing a bit thin." Indeed.

Review written in April, 2010 ( )
2 vote laytonwoman3rd | Jan 12, 2016 |
This was excellent - a quiet story about a momentous life decision, beautifully written. Edith has arrived at the aging Hotel du Lac in Switzerland after committing some sort of societal faux pas and being shipped off there by her friends. There she meets a mother/daughter duo, a single woman with an eating disorder, and a few other guests of the hotel. Edith's transgression is slowly revealed as she experiences different emotions - stubborness, sadness, defiance, longing.

In the end, this book is about one woman's decision of whether to do what her society expects of her or to be herself. Being herself, though, isn't so exciting as she is the kind of person who could very well lead a boring, slightly lonely life - and she knows it. So it is a real dilemma and struck me as very realistic. I grew to really like and respect Edith while reading this book. ( )
1 vote japaul22 | Dec 22, 2015 |
My faithful listeners/readers are well-aware of my love for the Man Booker Prize collection of novels. I first discovered this treasure trove of literary works when I came across Anita Brookner’s prize-winner, Hotel du Lac. On this, the sixth anniversary of Likely Stories, I return to the author of the first novel I reviewed.

Anita Brookner was born in Herne Hill, a suburb of London. She was the only child of Newson Bruckner, a Polish immigrant to Britain, and Maude Schiska, a singer whose father had emigrated from Poland and founded a tobacco factory. Maude changed the family's surname to Brookner because of anti-German sentiment in Britain. Anita Brookner had a lonely childhood, although her grandmother and uncle lived with the family, and her parents, secular Jews, opened their house to Jewish refugees escaping Nazi persecution during the 1930s and World War II. Brookner was educated at the private James Allen's Girls' School. In 1949 she received a BA in History from King's College London, and in 1953 a doctorate in Art History from the Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London. Brookner has not married, but took care of her parents as they aged.

This wonderfully introspective novel traces the journey of “Edith Hope, a writer of romantic fiction under a more thrusting name,” -- as Brookner labels her -- has committed a social faux pas of immense proportions. Her friend Penelope bundles her off for a month at the end-of-season to Hotel du Lac in Switzerland. There she wanders around the lake, works on her latest novel, and makes the acquaintance of several denizens of the sparsely occupied hotel.

Brookner writes, “The result of all this was to re-open in Edith’s mind the question of what behavior most becomes a woman, the question around which she had written most of her novels, the question she had attempted to argue with Harold Web [her publisher], the question she had failed to answer and which she now saw to be of the most vital importance. The excitement she thus experienced at being provided with an opportunity to study the question at first hand was if anything heightened by the fact that everything Mrs. Pusey had said so far was of the utmost triviality. Clearly there were depths here that deserved her prolonged attention” (40).

Edith immersed herself in her novel, and garnered endless thoughts and comments by the somewhat eccentric guests living out the last days of the fall season at Hotel du Lac. She slowly begins folding the experiences of others into her current novel. Slowly, she comes to a rational solution to her exile, and returns to London – wiser, more confidant, and fully in charge of her future.

This pleasant, short novel slowly reveals the peculiar reason for Edith’s exile to Switzerland, which has some significant effect on her outlook -- past, present, and future. I also recommend Anita Brookner's Hotel du Lac as a great introduction to the amazingly entertaining series of Booker Prize winners. A wonderful summer, autumn, winter or spring read. 5 stars

--Jim, 8/7/15 ( )
1 vote rmckeown | Aug 7, 2015 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Brookner, Anitaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Massey, AnnaReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wolff, EvaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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From the window all that could be seen was a receding area of grey.
A mild and scholarly man who looked like a country doctor, he disliked the more sociable aspects of his calling, but had nevertheless booked a table in a cathedral-like restaurant, where the patrons cowered in worship before the marvels to be set in front of them, and had gamely tackled the intricately coiled fillet of fish which had seemed to be the simplest item on the menu.
There here and now, the quotidian, as beginning to acquire substance. The dimension of terror that this realization brought with it - as if knowing the place too well might give her presence there some reality, some validity - was quickly palliated by the extraordinary accumulation of facts
And as most of Mrs. Pusey's sentences began with the words 'Of course', they had a range of tranquil confidence which somehow occluded any attempt to introduce an opinion of her own.
Mrs. Pusey's disposition to flirt, even when there was no one around to flirt with, was, to Edith, somehow disturbing, although it was done with such lack of inhibition that it should have appeared harmless. On those rare occasions when Mrs. Pusey was sitting alone, Edith had observed her in all sorts of attention-catching ploys, creating a small locus of busyness that inevitably invited someone to come to her aid. She would not be still or be quiet until she had captured the attention of whomever she judged to be necessary for her immediate purpose.
The sensation of being entertained by words was one which she encountered all too rarely. People expect writers to entertain them, she reflected.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0679759328, Paperback)

Edith Hope (a.k.a. romance author Veronica Wilde) has been banished by her friends to a stately hotel in Switzerland. During her stay she befriends some of the other guests, each of whom has his or her own tale. Edith struggles to come to terms with her career and love--the lack, the benefits, and the meaning thereof.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:16 -0400)

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Recounts the holiday of Edith Hope, meek, unmarried, and thirty-nine, who, on the mend from a disastrous love affair, becomes intimately involved with her fellow guests at the Swiss Hotel du Lac.

(summary from another edition)

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