Hotel du Lac – a light escape by Anita Brookner

Although set in a completely different part of France, this book reminded me of Bonjour Tristesse. Perhaps because of its central character – a female left to her own devices trying to find a foothold in idleness.

 

Narrated by Edith Hope, a middle-aged English writer of clever romance novels, Hotel du Lac opens with an incredibly vivid description of the hotel on the banks of Lake Geneva and its residents. The plot is gentle, Edith’s witty observations of her fellow guests interspersed with the details of the love letters sent to her lover David. As the novel progresses, it becomes clear that she’s in an imposed exile due to this scandalous relationship. Her friends in England are put under the spotlight as she recollects her past life, most of them appearing as somewhat vacuous unpleasant society beings. 

The novel picks up pace when Edith encounters Mr Neville, a fellow countryman who urges her to shake off the shackles of expectation and live her life her own way. With his help, she blossoms in self-esteem. However, this is not just a fluffy love story, thanks to Edith’s strength of character. It’s an easy read, with Brooknwe using the lightest of touches to avoid it becoming a saccharine love story. The descriptions of the guests are witty and entertaining and Edith is a protagonist that inspires empathy. At only 200 pages or so, it’s an enjoyable way to while away an afternoon.

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