Friday, 6 October 2017

Hotel du Lac by Anita Brookner

"If your capacity for bad behaviour were being properly used, you would not be moping around in that cardigan"

In case there is any doubt, I loved this book and devoured it in no time. I've never read a book that so wholeheartedly captures the sense of unease that a woman of a certain age feels at being unwed and perpetually single. It can feel like a disease, merely because one isn't prepared to settle for mediocre misery. Those that have often look on in distaste and hidden jealousy due to the wagon on which they are hitched.

This beautiful novel is an emotional journey and it took me back to travelling to Italy with my mother - trust me that is an emotional journey guaranteed to make you regress to your hideous sixteen year old, self-conscious self. I distinctly remember talking to a lady travelling solo at another Hotel du Lac( its quite the common name for a hotel by the lake - go figure) and she seemed so grown up and self assured next to me with my mother- transporting me into a Jennifer (in the novel) like figure. Part of the genius of this Booker Prize winning novel is the recognition of parts of oneself in the imperfect characters. One minute I was the solo writer with a penchant for hidden dalliances and fear of mediocrity, the next I was the young lady (ssh I'm not that old) burdened by her mother's omnipresent shadow.

Finally, the ending, and I'm not giving that away, really makes the entire experience memorable and fabulous. ***Avast ye eyes, spoilers be ahead*** Mr Neville's limpid proposal almost had me convinced that it would be easier to settle; thank goodness Edith has the internal fortitude to recognise  that a half lived live is a lame one.

5 out of 5 quiet hotels are torture with relatives or solo.

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