Book: Hotel Du Lac

Author: Anita Brookner

Rating: 2/5

Hotel du Lac-Anita Brookner

Hotel Du Lac is a short novel on the solitary musings of a lone author- Edith Hope. The novel opens on the first day of Edith's stay at the Hotel and ends on the day of her departure. We get glimpses of Edith's life as a spinster and as an author through her various reflections during this short phase of her life.

Edith has apparently been forced to leave her residence as a reaction to some strong step taken by Edith that had hurt many sentiments. The reader understand the true nature of this step only in the second half of the novel. Edith is portrayed as a demure and reticent writer who likes to listen more than to talk. She can make friends easily due to this. As a result Edith is sociably involved with almost all the guests staying at the hotel. Edith studies each character meticulously. She wants to overcome her own boredom and also wants to hunt for new ideas for her upcoming novel.

The second half of the novel is a study of how Edith moves on after the life-changing incident whose repercussions she wants to run away from by staying in the hotel.

Social/Historical context:

The book is a good example of feminist thinking. It brings to light the loneliness and social stigma associated with being an old maid. The protagonist, Edith Hope, is a successful author . Yet she suffers from a constant sense of insecurity and loneliness as she has not found someone to marry yet. The novel traces her attempts to find love in a selfish and materialistic world. She receives two marriage proposals in the novel- she accepts none. However, such is her desperation to get married that she comes very near to accepting both even as she realizes she loves neither suitor. It is heartening to see however that Edith is able to overcome this temptation both the times and is even able to forgo the yearnings of her unreturned love for a third boyfriend. She is at least able to follow the path to dignity and self reliance however lonesome and difficult it may be.

Writing Style:

The novel is written mostly in the form of musings of the protagonist and has very little activity. Life is sedentary at the hotel with very little to do, except eat well, shop, socialize, and go for little walks. The reader is required to piece together Edith's life and character from fragments provided in the novel. There is not much plot in the novel. But it provides good character studies of women from various social and family back grounds.

My Thoughts:

My first attempt at reading Hotel Du Lac had been unsuccessful- I was overwhelmed by the apparent lack of activity in the novel and discarded it eventually. On my second attempt however, many months later, I approached the book with more patience and was able to recognize the pearls of wisdom in Edith's musings “I have been too harsh on women, she thought, because I understand them better than I understand men.”

Book Reviewed By Ashmita Saha

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Edith Hope is on a journey of self discovery at the Hotel du Lac: namely, can a woman lead a fulfilled life without a man? Neville supplies the answer …

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