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Hotel du Lac [Paperback]

Anita Brookner
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
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Book Description

24 Feb 1994

Hotel du Lac is the classic Booker Prize winning novel by Anita Brookner.

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 . . .

'A classic . . . a book which will be read with pleasure a hundred years from now' Spectator

'A smashing love story. It is very romantic. It is also humorous, witty, touching and formidably clever' The Times

'Hotel du Lac is written with a beautiful grave formality, and it catches at the heart' Observer

'Her technique as a novelist is so sure and so quietly commanding' Hilary Mantel, Guardian

'She is one of the great writers of contemporary fiction' Literary Review

Anita Brookner was born in south London in 1928, the daughter of a Polish immigrant family. She trained as an art historian, and worked at the Courtauld Institute of Art until her retirement in 1988. She published her first novel, A Start in Life, in 1981 and her twenty-fourth, Strangers, in 2009. Hotel du Lac won the 1984 Booker Prize. As well as fiction, Anita Brookner has published a number of volumes of art criticism.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; New Ed edition (24 Feb 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140147470
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140147476
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 11,943 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

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.


A smashing love story. It is very romantic. It is also humorous, witty, touching and formidably clever (The Times)

A classic...a book which will be read with pleasure a hundred years from now (Spectator)

Written with a beautiful grave formality, and it catches at the heart (Observer)

She is one of the great writers of contemporary fiction (Literary Review)

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
From the window all that could be seen was a receding area of grey. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Subtle Booker Brilliance 24 April 2010
By Simon Savidge Reads TOP 500 REVIEWER
I absolutely loved Anita Brookner's 1984 (I was two when this won) Man Booker Winner, seriously loved it. I can easily imagine this becoming a slightly underground classic in the future as the characters and story are just wonderful. Hotel Du Lac is the story of Edith Hope as she takes a break from the world and her writing of mildly successful romance novels. She has, it unfolds, been sent away by her best friend Penelope Milne who she is in disgrace of (along with a fair amount of her social circle) and would only be forgiven if she went to Switzerland to "disappear for a decent length of time and come back older, wiser and properly sorry". If you loved that line, like I did, then you will love all of the wording and wit Anita Brookner provides throughout a mere 180 pages.

Of course you then want to find out just what disgraceful act Edith has been apart of and as the novel and her character develop you soon realise it could be more than one thing. Once she is in the hotel though you also want to learn about all the stories of the other random guests who are staying in Switzerland `out of season'.

There is the fabulous Lady X or `the lady with the noisy dog who smoked endlessly and ate only ice cream and cake' who we learn to love and learn her real name is Monica, sent by her husband to stop eating and loose weight. We also meet Madame De Bonneuil who has been dumped there by her son who visits once a week whilst he and his wife, who hates her, spend all her money and live in her fabulous mansion. There are the fabulous and incredibly wealthy Iris and her daughter Jennifer Pusey who have come merely to shop... endlessly, and drink unbelievable quantities of champagne and gossip.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I disagree with almost all the other reviews :-) 14 Aug 2009
By emma who reads a lot TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
i really enjoyed this book, I didn't think it was dull, but nor did I think it was a delicately painted subtle little thing of beauty. I thought it was really funny, well-observed, and in fact the one person I do agree with is Dominic Swayne. Although I'm sad to hear that she never wrote such comedy again; I was imagining there was some rich vein there for me to tap into now. I'm just amazed that some readers didn't get the joke, I'm really amazed. I guess they just read it as a serious, pompous novel without the profound irony and narratorial skill that, for me, Brookner obviously has.

And for those who don't think it's meant to be funny... what about the little dog that wees on the stairs, and then the hotel manager who just shuts his eyes in disgust, it's such a funny image? What about Penelope, whose bed is covered in hundreds of little cushions "which proclaimed to the world at large 'I am a woman of exceptional femininity"? Eurgh! What about Mr Neville, who tells the heroine he is going to change her, having complained about her dress sense, to which she replies "If all it involves is giving away my cardigan, I feel I should tell you that I have another one at home." It's so dry, and so funny, I think it has a lot in common with Muriel Spark and is very well told and very moving.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By bobbygw
Beautifully written, intelligent, reflective, understated and elegiac in tone, with a pervading sadness that runs throughout the novel and her characters' lives - perhaps something that could be said of much of Brookner's fiction? - this is a charming and thoughtful novel focused on Edith Hope, a successful middle-aged novelist of romantic fiction (though a realist about the world of the living, she never denies her heroines the mythical joys of true romantic journeys and endings), who comes to stay at the genteel, select Hotel du Lac, an old world establishment in Switzerland, to reflect on recent events in her life.

Through the course of the novella (it's only 184 pages), Edith comes to engage with the hotel's other residents, all beautifully drawn. There's Monica, with her tiny dog that she passes her hotel food to (she has an eating disorder, and focuses mainly on cakes, coffee and cigarettes to keep her going), while vaguely thinking about her marriage that has come to an impasse; the relentlessly self-obsessed, rich, always-on-display and well-dressed, elegant Mrs Pusey and her shadow daughter, Jennifer (acting as truncated Greek Chorus to Mrs Pusey's endless exclamations about her own life and opinions); stalwart, sad, alone Mme de Bonneuil, dumped by her only son to live for part of each year at the hotel; and Mr Neville, charming, devilish, always insightful, but without sentiment or love, who intrigues Edith and triggers her considering fundamental changes in her life. He does this by questioning her mode of living and her way of thinking about love and relationships and self (he's an advocate of self-interested living only), and proposing marriage (but not love).
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A cautionary tale for life's tortoises... 20 Mar 2011
By John P. Jones III TOP 500 REVIEWER
The perfect cover for an excellent, insightful novel. The dabbled light on the walk, the chair that says "Europe"; a lone woman, hands in her coat, head down, obviously deeply absorbed in considering a cusp of her life, trailed by her one true friend, her dog... or is it a cat? And the "lac" of the title is Lake Geneva; the story unfolds on the Swiss side. What sort of hotel is it? "Travel agents did not know it, or had forgotten it." It has a special function, for a special cliental: "Certain doctors knew it, many solicitors knew it, brokers and accountants knew it." And in particular: "Those families who benefit from the periodic absence of one of their more troublesome members treasured it."

Edith Hope arrives at the Hotel du Lac not because it is a sought destination, but rather her absence from another setting is desired. She has committed a grievous faux pas, but we don't learn what she has done until a brilliantly written flashback, three-fourths of the way through the novel, reveals her decision that "The Loneliness of a Long Distance Runner" would have understood so well. Hope is a middling sort of novelist, who writes "fantasy and obfuscation" for the (female) tortoise market. The "hares" didn't have time to read, so she spins her tales for the "tortoises" who win every time, because "they prefer the old myths...they want to believe that they are going to be discovered, looking their best, behind closed doors, just when they thought that all was lost, by a man who has battled across continents, abandoning whatever he may have had in his in-tray, to reclaim them." Wow! Such is the power of Brookner's prose. As she explains, Hope could write these tales because she was a tortoise herself.

And the "hares"?
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A Beautiful Read
This is a gentle, thought-provoking story, beautifully written and totally engrossing. It's not an action-packed drama, just a very pleasing account of one woman's self-discovery... Read more
Published 2 months ago by JJaxon
5.0 out of 5 stars yorkies
my wife says she will enjoy reading it again so all is well - she may even get the video to watch again
Published 3 months ago by Steven Maslen
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterpiece
A brilliant and entertaining work of fiction. A must read. Excellent charactorisation and (something that is missing these days) credible dialogue. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Book boy
5.0 out of 5 stars a beautifully written period book of gracious living
The place is well described and one is introduced to the characters of the hotel with increasing interest as one turns the pages. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Christine Makin
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic
Superbly written, such a sympathetic main character. Plenty of times when you smile to yourself. I think the ending was changed for the film, Definitely recommend.
Published 4 months ago by lulu53
1.0 out of 5 stars Somebody is taking the mick.
it is not easy to write this but cliches are the characters in this book.
i read it thinking something might happen. Read more
Published 5 months ago by gabriel mendoza
5.0 out of 5 stars Crisply written
Reread this recently after many years. Beautifully crafted. Amazed at how, with just a few words, she could paint a vivid scene. Highly enjoyable.
Published 6 months ago by Carolyn E. Dow
4.0 out of 5 stars A rare and excellent book
I was drawn into this novel and, for the most part, remained enjoyably involved - which is unusual, my tolerance for less-than-excellent writing having decreased over the years. Read more
Published 8 months ago by wordsandpictures
5.0 out of 5 stars book
I bought this for my daughter who told me she thoroughly enjoyed it-she is a 17 year old English "A" level student.
Published 8 months ago by PAUL DAVIS
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb, sublime novel - the best Booker winner to date.
It is hard for me to believe that anyone would rate this superb novel as less than five stars. I have read this four times and each time have found it as exquisite, as it is... Read more
Published 8 months ago by BiBi Berlin
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