Friday, January 8, 2010

Anita Brookner (Hotel Du Lac)

Anita Brookner is an English novelist and art historian who had her first book, A Start In Life, published in 1981 when she was 53. She proceeded to write a novel a year and her fourth, Hotel Du Lac, won the Man Booker Prize in 1984.

The novel is about Edith Hope, a romance writer who has been banished to Geneva by her friends in London to give her time to recover from an "unfortunate" incident. At the Swiss hotel where she is staying, she encounters several interesting guests: the solitary Mme. Bonneuil; the wealthy widow Mrs. Pusey and her voluptuous and devoted daughter Jennifer; Monica, the graceful beauty, and Mr. Neville, whose ambiguous smile and unusual beliefs leave Edith intrigued.

I enjoyed the book immensely. Edith Hope is such a fascinating character-- sensitive, impressionable, flawed. On a day trip on the lake, Mr. Neville shares with Edith what he imagines her life to be like:

"You live in London. You have a comfortable income. You go to drinks parties and dinner parties and publishers' parties. You do not really enjoy any of this. Although people are glad to see you, you lack companions of the first resort. You come home alone. You are fussy about your house. You have had lovers but not half as many as your friends have had; they, of course, credit you with none at all and worry about you rather ostentatiously. You are aware of this. And yet you have a secret life, Edith. Although only too obviously incorruptible, you are not what you seem."

I love that Brookner is able to make her characters come alive that you can almost imagine them sitting across the room from you, and you are calmed by the weather and the view of the lake that she so vividly describes. She makes reading not only a sciential but a sentient experience as well.

1 comment:

Peter S. said...

Hi, Ajie! Finally, I now have a reason to read this book. It has been in my TBR pile for the longest time!