Hotel du Lac | Books

With the dreaded C-word still around, I haven’t travelled abroad this year and it’s really had an effect on me.

Looking forward to escaping everyday life for a while and discovering somewhere new always gives me a little boost, but this year, I’ve found myself just plodding along, doing the same old thing, day in, day out.

Instead, to get my dose of holiday sun in 2021, I turned to books. In particular, this little gem of a book – the Hotel du Lac.

Image of Hotel du Lac on flowery background

Who wrote it?

Anita Brookner – this was the first time I’ve read any of her books!

How long is it?

In my Penguin paperback edition, just 184 pages.

So, what happens?

A lady called Edith Hope checks in to the Hotel du Lac near Lake Geneva. When the novel begins, we’re unsure why she is there but discover that she embarrassed herself back home in London, and her friends have sent her away to think about her actions.

During her stay, Edith meets characters from all walks of life and ponders on the mysteries of love and life.

What are my thoughts?

This is one of those books where there doesn’t seem to be much of a plot – it’s almost as if nothing happens but everything happens. My favourite type of book.

Once you start reading it, you’ll become immersed in the beautiful Swiss landscape, with Brookner describing the landscape brilliantly, such as the autumnal mist across the lake.

Despite the book being written in 1984, Hotel du Lac did seem to me like it was set in the 1920s or 1930s. The emphasis on marriage in a woman’s life, for instance, seemed like more of an old-fashioned stance.

However, I enjoyed this focus on a woman’s place in society and the expectations placed upon her, by her peers. It was great to see how much we’ve progressed but it was a stark reminder that a woman was once measured by the success of her male counterpart, rather than on her own merit.

One of my favourite parts of this book was the setting, and the descriptions of the town that Edith explores with a fellow traveller – particularly, the cafe with its misted-up windows.

But I also really loved the evocative scenes back in London when all is revealed about the embarrassment Edith caused herself, her friends and one unlucky man. Her home sounded like an absolutely idyllic spot – somewhere she could truly call her own.

As someone who adores a satisfactory ending, I can testify that this one made me breathe a sigh of relief. After following Edith’s journey, I think the conclusion is completely in fitting with her character.

Final verdict

5/5 – If you’re looking for a quick burst of escapism, I’d highly recommend this short book. A gem of a story.


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