Picks and Pans Review: Hotel Du Lac
by Anita Brookner
The heroine in this novel, Edith Hope, is a British writer who has produced several successful romances under a pen name. She is at a resort hotel in Switzerland. It is at the end of the season and only a few people are left: a handsome woman who is totally preoccupied with herself and her daughter, a beautiful wife unable to produce an heir for her wealthy husband, an elderly deaf woman whose daughter-in-law doesn't want her around and a well-dressed man who always seems to say exactly the right thing. This beautifully written novel is about Edith pondering "the question of what behaviour most becomes a woman...the question she had failed to answer and which she now saw to be of the most vital importance." Edith has had a lover who is a married man, and she has been courted by another man who is perfectly eligible. Marriage to him would give her a secure place in the world. But Edith cherishes her own little house and garden. She likes the business of getting up and writing every day, and, most important, believes in the romantic tales she writes. Brookner, an art historian at the Courtauld Institute in London, writes superior fiction. She is Jane Austen updated, and a bit more elegant perhaps than Barbara Pym. (Pantheon, $13.95)
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