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Hotel Du Lac Paperback – 1 Feb 1994
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"Brookner's most absorbing novel...wryly realistic...graceful and attractive." ?Anne Tyler, The New York Times Book Review
"Impeccably written and suffused with pleasing wit." ?Newsweek
"Distinctive, spellbinding...elegant but passionate, funny but oddly earnest.... Novels like hers are why we read novels." ?Christian Science Monitor
"A remarkable novel...Anita Brookner's best." ?Victoria Glendinning, The Sunday Times (London)
About the Author
Anita Brookner was born in south London in 1928, the daughter of a Polish immigrant family. She trained as an art historian, and worked at the Courtauld Institute of Art until her retirement in 1988. She published her first novel, A Start in Life, in 1981 and her twenty-fourth, Strangers, in 2009. Hotel du Lac won the 1984 Booker Prize. As well as fiction, Anita Brookner has published a number of volumes of art criticism.See all Product description
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As other reviewers have noted, the whole environment feels pre-War, so when certain hints make one aware that it actually is set in the 1980s, it's quite a jolt. Ms Brookner writes faultless, elegant prose, but I wasn't entirely convinced by Edith's choices, given that she was a successful woman of only thirty years ago. (One can empathise with events in Jane Austen's novels because women of that era were under very different social and financial constraints.)
Consequently the whole story didn't really work for me, despite its polished style.
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This time through though I am struck by her talents as a writer - she has a way with making words dance in line together, and a way of building sentences that are often longer than those employed in current best-seller fiction, but sentences that work and make sense. And ... although not much "happens", relative to best sellers that are very "happening", it is a page-turner. Here from the end of chapter one. It is the thoughts of the elder owner of the hotel. "Hope, Edith Joanna. An unusual name for an English lady. Perhaps not entirely English. Perhaps not entirely a lady. Recommended, of course. But in this business one never knew."
And so ... I turned the page, intrigued.
If you enjoy "classical", more "traditional" writing then this one is for you. I see now, though not at time of publication, why it won the Booker. Skillful writing. Skillful storytelling. The author is gifted in her use of techniques, though again, they are not techniques I would actively seek to use in my own writing. Highly recommended to those who love the exercise of language skillfully selected and woven.