Anita Brookner's Hotel du Lac (1984 Booker Prize winner) is an elegant little gem - one that can be enjoyably consumed whole inside 24 hours. I highly recommend this marvelous story. Brookner is a remarkable writer - concise, erudite, sophisticated and completely absorbing. Every character is carefully and believably crafted. Surprises lurk behind every chapter heading. The setting is attractive, the pace beautifully measured. I could not put the book down - and have only done so with a promise to self to pick up another Brookner as soon as possible.
There's a lovely review by Jesse Larson from the pages of Amazon USA: "In the beginning of this novel, we know only that Edith Hope, "a writer of romantic fiction under a more thrusting name" has been banished to the Hotel du Lac, a "quiet hotel ... in which she could be counted upon to retrieve her serious and hard-working personality and to forget the unfortunate lapse which had led to this brief exile." Penelope, the friend and neighbor responsible for sending Edith away for her as-yet-unexplained act is prepared to forgive only when Edith becomes "properly apologetic." Slowly, through luxurious prose narrated by way of Edith's thoughts, unsent letters, and conversations with Hotel residents, Edith's transgression emerges. Not surprisingly, this is a story of love: The love between women friends who have differing values, the love of a man who needs a woman now that his mother is dead, the love of a single woman who everyone thinks needs a faithful man. Edith struggles to understand and articulate her own truths while she lives in the overly-proper and ostentatious Hotel du Lac, takes long walks, eats excellent cuisine, retires early, and tries to write romantic fiction. She ponders accepting the proposal of a man she doesn't love: "I shall settle down now. I shall have to, for I doubt if I have anything more to look forward to." But can she?"