Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Hotel Du Lac by Anita Brookner

Hotel Du Lac by Anita Brookner (1984,  184 pages)

July 16, 2011

I want to start my post on Hotel Du Lac by Anita Brookner (1928, UK) by thanking Thomas of  My Porch, one of the co-sponsors of International Anita Brookner Day, for sending me a copy of this book.   I am very appreciative of his expense and efforts in sending this book internationally to me.  

My first Anita Brookner was A Start in Life.    The second was Leaving Home.  I totally loved and think I understood the first line of Leaving Home "Dr Weiss, at forty, knew that her life had been ruined by literature".

I liked both of these novels.   The people in her novels all seem to lead very careful well ordered lives.   It is a world where one spends hours wondering if it would be a better idea to wear a light or a dark camel colored coat to tonight's lecture at the British Museum on 14th century Baltic ceramics.   The novels of Brookner are Northern cold climate books, not works of the Tropics.

The Hotel Du Lac won the 1984 Brookner Prize.     There are a number of very good blog posts on it that you can find links to  on the web page for International Anita Brookner Day.    The story line is pretty straight forward.    It centers on Edith Hope, a well known writer of romance novels who has been sent to a hotel in Switzerland to recover from a scandal about her own personal life.

I must say that what I liked best about The Hotel Du Lac, I really loved it, was the lengthy description of The Hotel Du Lac itself.   It seems like a wonderful place to be a regular guest.   The staff and the other guests were just marvelously done.

I did a bit of a study of the first two or three pages of the novel.   I think we can learn a lot from some of Brookner's word choice.   The word "grey" appears three times in the first paragraph.   A character is described as "tight lipped", "older" and "apologetic".   A personality is referred to as "dim" and "low".   The room of the hotel is done in colors of over cooked veal.   The bulbs are weak and twinkle drearily.   There are 100s of these expressions throughout the novel.    Brookner,  is painting a picture for us.        Brookner was an art historian before she became (at age 53) a novelist.    The use of all these colors is very much part of the tone of the book.   I can see why some find her work almost oppressive.

There is a kind of a surprise ending at the close of  The Hotel Du Lac.   I will not give it away other but I really liked it and was a bit shocked I admit.

I enjoyed this book.   It is a work of very subtle intelligence.   The descriptions of the hotel are really wonderfully done.    The people we meet in the hotel are interesting and it is fun to get to know them.

Please share your experiences with Brookner with us.

Mel u


Violet said...

I love this novel. Bookner shows her gift for examining the minutiae of everyday life and turning it into something quite profound. There is a lot going on underneath the surface.

Mystica said...

I've only read this one and found it difficult to read in one go. I had to digest it slowly but it was a good book.