Hotel du Lac

Last night I finished reading Anita Brookner's 1984 Booker Prize winning novel, Hotel du Lac. I assumed it was also set in the early eighties, but I wasn't too sure because there were few signifiers. It evoked the era of the New Woman at the end of the nineteenth century, beginning of the twentieth though, which is probably why it worked so well. It had that singular focus that I too quickly lose faith in when I try and write in that way, but which I much prefer as a reader, and which is the main characteristic of all my favourite novels.

The fact that the main character, Edith, (another signifier of past times) had been likened by her friends as looking like Virginia Woolf didn't help as everything I associate with her kept crowding in. But it was quietly heartbreaking. Just when I thought it would end, resolved, it didn't. It was crowded with lonely women and cold men. OK, it was overwhelmingly upper middle-class, but I can fully understand why it won the Booker.

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