Into the rarefied atmosphere of the Hotel du Lac timidly walks Edith Hope, romantic novelist and holder of modest dreams. Edith has been exiled from home after embarrassing herself and her friends. She has refused to sacrifice her ideals and remains stubbornly single. But among the pampered women and minor nobility Edith finds Mr Neville and her chance to escape from a life of humiliating spinsterhood is renewed...
©1984 Anita Brookner (P)2014 Audible, Inc.
I have read the other review of this book and could not disagree with it more! Although you are obviously only seeing the protagonists' lives on a superficial level, I found that I thought afterwards about them and where they were heading... Anna Massey reads superbly and she bought the rights to the book and played the 'heroine' in the TV play so perhaps I'm partly swayed by that because the characters were perfectly cast.
I've also read almost all Anita Brookner's books and for me this is the best.
Classics,contemporary fiction, Politics, Philosophy, Economics - a weekly eye on The New Yorker & The Guardian and dense word style/play.
Anita Brookner is the best British contemporary author there is and this novel displays most of the traits that have become her trade-marks - but is not the best, simply serving as a pointer to a whole treasure-trove oeuvre that I have loved over the years. Going back to the first novel, it is now easy to see the parallels between this novel and the works of Edith Wharton and the ubiquitous Jane Austen, to whom all female English authors are condemned to be compared with. Brookner herself makes the case for Virginia Woolf within the narrative - but this is clearly just a knowing trick, as is the Forsterian mechanism of the bedroom door in the middle of the night.
In my view, Anita Brookner easily transcends the literary inheritance with which she is shackled and makes the case for clear, deep thinking about gender in art and life that speaks directly to the dogged reader. Hotel du Lac is indeed writing for the Tortoise market, but not in the way Edith’s agent characterises it. In subsequent works, I’ve seen at first hand the searing, uncompromising vision that is brought to the ‘lives less lived’ cast of characters.
Here, finally, the protagonist breaks free. An intellectual freedom is asserted. I’m afraid, however, that we live largely in a world of hares - and who knows that the girl in the harem-scar’em pants doesn’t have the ultimate truth tucked under that low cut up-market, high end, low taste top.
If you have not read Anita Brookner before, what better place to start, if, like me you are familiar with the best of authors then it is wonderful to revisit this old and trusted friend.
Beautifully written and read, I really cannot recommend this short novel enough. The author compresses such life into not only our heroine, but into all of the strange guests at Hotel du Luc.
Author of Bonfire of the Past a market town murder mystery. Who killed Cristobel Sabine and why?
I read this novel thirty years ago and enjoyed it. On listening to it now, the story and the prose style, like the very finest wine, has improved with age. Anita Brookner writes about women who have missed their chance at happiness with such perception, and the sense of misty solitude of the grand, forlorn hotel is palpably loaded with longing and unfulfilled desire which captures the mood of protagonist, Edith. The book evokes an age, not so very distant from today, but a time which now seems to have vanished. Brooker's grasp of the smallest detail to illustrate the greater theme of her story, that of the life imposed on or adopted by women in a hostile world, is telling. The novel is, of course, a classic of the twentieth century.
Hotel du Lac could be compared to work by Elizabeth Jane Howard. Neither Brookner nor Howard could be described as overtly feminist writers but they see the world from a woman's point of view: middle and upper middle class women who are intelligent and perceptive and use their brains and emotions to navigate their way through a male dominated world, sometimes with a degree of personal fulfillment, sometimes not.
Anna Massey brings all the characters to life, even the male characters. She did, I believe, play the role of Edith in a television version of Hotel du Lac in a BBC television adaptation of the narrative and is, therefore, the ideal choice to recreate the book as an audio version.
My reaction was one of deep satisfaction with the delicacy and also the power of Brookner's prose style: her eye for detail: her sharply defined characters. I laughed at the free spending, beautifully turned out but avaricious Mrs Pusey; I fumed at Edith's selfish lover, and her presumptuous, judgmental suitor; I was deeply satisfied by the resolution to the story.
Take the time to listen to Hotel du Lac. It is in its sonorous way a breakthrough for the way in which one woman finally decides, on her own terms, what is best for her regardless of the conventions of the time when her choice might be regarded as a great sacrifice.
On the occasion of Anita Brookner's death this month I turned again to her Booker Prize winning novel but not to the print version forgotten on my bookshelf for decades but to this audio book. I didn't remember Brookner's intriguing intelligent and sharp-tongued diction that alone is a pleasure but presented by Anna Massey it is a pure delight!
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