A solitary life

Book cover of Hotel du Lac showing a woman walking along by a lake

Hotel du Lac by Anita Brookner

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

In Hotel du Lac, Edith Hope has retreated from her life in London to a luxury hotel in Switzerland for reasons we aren’t told at first. A writer struggling with her new book, she spends her time observing the follies of the other guests and serving as an audience to the wealthy patrons there while slowly reassessing her own life and trying to decide her next steps.

I find Anita Brookner‘s wistful, introspective novels oddly comforting. In my review of Brookner’s Visitors, I mentioned that I saw that novel as a descendant of the thoughtful, observant work of Virginia Woolf. Here, Edith is told by more than one person that she looks like Virginia Woolf. As in that novel, Brookner deftly depicts the shifts in her character’s thinking as she comes to realizations about herself and the life she’s chosen, and questions whether she should radically change it.

Hotel du Lac is a novel about life choices, regret, and the passing of time. Each character is carefully tuned to resonate with the decisions the main character faces. Brookner is a master of depicting the subtle problems we face as we age, and this a graceful, insightful, and wonderful novel.