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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Subtle Booker Brilliance
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...
Published on 24 April 2010 by Simon Savidge Reads

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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not her best by any means...
Anita Brookner has a rare gift for portraying loneliness, exclusion, repression and so on, and for exposing the subtle psychological manipulations and maneouverings in human relationships, but they are scarcely in evidence in this lightweight and romantic offering. Her infatuation with the manners of the upper middle classes has always been a bit of a problem, and some of...
Published on 24 Sep 2008 by jcw


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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 "Simon" (Manchester, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Hotel du Lac (Paperback)
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. They also like to think they are talk of the town and whilst Iris is her daughter Jennifer "inexpressive as a blank window" doesn't seem to be following her mothers lead, though there is a dark twist where she is concerned.

One final quest is Mr Neville who claims himself `a romantic' and thinks he knows just what Edith needs to sort her life out if only he can show her. As the obvious romance story evolves between the two characters I was initially touched and then started to get very disappointed in where the novel might be leading. I shouldn't have worried as Brookner pulls out a very final and very clever twist as well as finally letting us in on Edith's past.

I actually hugged this book when I had finished it and really wanted to start the whole thing all over again. It reminded me of the wit of lethal wit, scandal and romance of a Nancy Mitford novel only with modern twists and turns. It also looks at the roles of women at a time, I am guessing it is set in the late sixties early seventies though you are never sure, when rules and ways were changing and they had more options yet weren't really meant to use them.
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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 (London) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
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This review is from: Hotel du Lac (Paperback)
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
4.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful, sad, sensitive, intelligent fiction that won the Booker Prize, 2 Dec 2010
This review is from: Hotel du Lac (Paperback)
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).

Faced with a pattern and routine in her life that Edith finds both comforting and sad, including her affair with a married man, Mr Simmons, and for which she is typically pigeon-holed, she is regarded as less than she really is in terms of character and depth. Such conflicts act as catalysts that, combined, conspire to a decision that ultimately leads her to the Hotel du Lac.

The dialogue and characterisation are consistently rich, entertaining and often provoke the reader into reflecting on his or her own approach to love and a life worth living, and what this says about ourselves. At the end of the novella, Edith's decision and next step, reflects her full awareness of her life to date, and the options available to her, including that of taking a radically different, perhaps more positive (self-interested) approach to her life, her decision is very much her own and true to who she is.

A moving meditation on personal choices, love and life-changing decisions and ways of living. Highly recommended.
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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 (Albuquerque, NM, USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Hotel du Lac (Paperback)
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"? "To Penelope, men were conquests, attributes, but they were also enemies; ... Her tone with such men was flirtatious, mocking, never serious; she spread about her a propaganda of rapid affairs, rapidly consummated, with a laughing lack of commitment on both sides." "I'm talking about the complacent consumers of men with their complicated but unwritten rules of what is due to them. Treats. Indulgences. Privileges. The right to make illogical fusses. The cult of themselves." "The whole sorry business of baiting the sexual trap was uncovered by Monica's refusal to behave herself in a way becoming to a wife: by sheer effrontery she would damage her husband's pride, humble him into keeping her, or, if not, ruin his reputation."

Yes, the tortoises and hares of life. Another Brookner theme, one of the critical ones, particularly for women, and their haunting bio clock, is age. The author plays it so well, keeping the reader guessing how old the characters are at the Hotel. Be prepared for a surprise or two. And those other characters, they are so authentically drawn, with a balance of empathy and criticism. And if you have a few miles on your odometer, you might say, yes, that is just like... so-and-so. Why could I never articulate the self-absorption of the shallowest of lives as Brookner has done?

Brookner certainly deserved the not quite eponymous Booker Prize for this novel, written over a quarter century ago. Even at the time, the author was describing a social anachronism of a place, as well as the misfits who did not particularly seek refuge there as so much as they were sent, as though it were an asylum. But her insights into the human condition remain "cutting age"; a pleasure and a pain to contemplate. So, I'll close with two: "The company of their own sex, Edith reflected, was what drove many women into marriage." And: "And once you are married, you can behave as badly as everybody else."

Finally, Brookner teases you with the ending, as you wonder: Will she pull an "Edith Hope" herself?

Positively 5-stars, particularly on the re-read.

(Note: Review first published at Amazon, USA, on May 10, 2010)
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17 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars to be or not to be a single woman, 22 Dec 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Hotel du Lac (Paperback)
The author uses the near-solitude of a hotel in the off-season to convey the state of mind of a woman at a crossroads. If, like the heroine, you need a room of your own in which to create, you will relate to this book. A quiet masterpiece, beautifully capturing things unsaid about writing, observing, and being a woman.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not her best by any means..., 24 Sep 2008
By 
This review is from: Hotel du Lac (Paperback)
Anita Brookner has a rare gift for portraying loneliness, exclusion, repression and so on, and for exposing the subtle psychological manipulations and maneouverings in human relationships, but they are scarcely in evidence in this lightweight and romantic offering. Her infatuation with the manners of the upper middle classes has always been a bit of a problem, and some of the characters at the Hotel du Lac are ridiculous in their pretentious and empty headed strategies, which the protagonist details in her unsent letters with an equally empty headed obsessiveness. The romantic interest, Mr Neville, is a laughable caricature, and her longing for the married and unavailable David comes across as the rather bored and stupid longing of a woman with enough intelligence to know better. Infidelity was hardly shocking when this book was written, but for us to sanction and approve it we need a bit more grit and angst and passion. It already seems quite dated in style, a slightly risque Jane Austen without the technical skill, and for Edith to credit herself with any kind of resemblence to Virginia Woolf is literary blasphemy! Brookner has written much better and much more movingly than this. Although her writing is technically excellent, here she seems to have had in mind a rather regrettable section of the mass market - the bored bourgeoise housewife preoccupied with rich men and beautiful clothes. Dear dear.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoy a good read., 2 Jun 2014
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This review is from: Hotel du Lac (Paperback)
What a super book to relax with.Wonderful descriptions of both the characters and the situation .Try it,and enjoy relaxing at home or on holiday .
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3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable journey but..., 27 May 2014
By 
John Goddard (Saffron Walden, Essex) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Hotel du Lac (Paperback)
I quite enjoyed the journey of this book, through the gradual unfolding of the mainly female characters gathered in the Hotel du Lac. But in the end I was left unsatisfied. I didn't really warm to any of the characters, with the nearest I came to emotional engagement being a half-hearted pity. Perhaps this is my problem, not the author's? Perhaps I am a shallow reader who wants everything to be black and white? But I really don't think so. I think the so-called romance of this novel is a poor reflection on both the male and female protagonists of this book. Scanning the other reviews posted there is a suggestion that this novel rewards a second reading, and it was nicely written, and it did win the Booker Prize. It just didn't quite do it for me...
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Beautiful Read, 28 Jan 2014
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This review is from: Hotel du Lac (Kindle Edition)
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 during a brief stay in Switzerland. Like all good literature, it is as relevant today as it was when Brookner first wrote it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars yorkies, 10 Jan 2014
By 
Steven Maslen (York) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Hotel du Lac (Paperback)
my wife says she will enjoy reading it again so all is well - she may even get the video to watch again
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Hotel du Lac
Hotel du Lac by Anita Brookner (Paperback - 24 Feb 1994)
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