Not for the Drowned World. Not for High Rise. Not for Crash. Not for Cocaine Nights. Not — most notably — for Empire Of The Sun.

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Not for the Drowned World. Not for High Rise. Not for Crash. Not for Cocaine Nights. Not — most notably — for Empire Of The Sun. A quarter-century on, this failure to reward greatness seems a travesty. Even at the time it annoyed plenty of critics and Anita Brookner , the writer lucky-unlucky enough to be chosen in his place, took a lot of stick.

Malcolm Bradbury called her winning novel, Hotel du Lac, "parochial", and thundered that it was not the sort of book that should have won the Booker. She was right. Both from the point of view that Empire Of The Sun is so very good, but also because of the anger her victory provoked. This is not a book that should enrage. It is actually one that should be admired and enjoyed. Quietly maybe, but still fervently.

Written in clean and simple, but also subtly suggestive, prose it tells of Edith Hope, a romantic novelist on a "curious interlude in her life". At first, Edith does indeed mope around, failing to write her latest blousy novel, trying to decide how she should make her way through life and soaking up and reflecting back the melancholy atmosphere of her surroundings. This pathetic fallacy is wonderfully handled, and the descriptions of the quiet, snooty hotel, where one imagines the air is almost as heavy as the old-fashioned furniture, are as evocative as they are amusing: "As far as guests were concerned, it took a perverse pride in its very absence of attractions, so that any visitor mildly looking for a room would be puzzled and deflected by the sparseness of the terrace, the muted hush of the lobby … There was no sauna, no hairdresser and certainly no glass cases displaying items of jewellery; the bar was small and dark and its austerity did not encourage people to linger.

Naturally, they only really succeed in boring and patronising her, but even so the distraction they and others provide lifts Edith from her solipsism and it comes as a pleasant surprise somewhere around the two-thirds mark to realise that Edith is on the mend.

But as things start to get brighter for the heroine, they unfortunately get duller for the reader. But the understated and all too realistic discomfort of the opening gives way to something more overwrought. After pages and pages of delightfully painful getting-to-know-you small talk the characters suddenly seem to know each other far too well.

It jars when these near strangers start in with the deep dark teatime of the soul and begin analysing each other in often insulting detail. One guest, Mr Neville, even proposes to Edith. He says: "I need a wife whom I can trust" no matter that he has only known her for a matter of days. He reasons that she might as well take up his offer since at the moment "you are desolate. A pleasure.


Booker club: Hotel du Lac

I know all that, and know that it leaves you lonely. No, what I crave is the simplicity of routine. An evening walk, arm in arm, in fine weather. A game of cards. Time for idle talk.


Hotel Du Lac

Plot[ edit ] Edith reaches Hotel du Lac in a state of bewildered confusion at the turn of events in her life. After a secret and often lonely affair with a married man and an aborted marriage, she is banished by her friends. They advise her to go on "probation" so as to "grow up", "be a woman", and atone for her mistakes. Edith comes to the hotel swearing not to change. Edith falls for the ambiguous smile of Mr Neville, a wealthy owner of a technology company, who asks for her hand in marriage. Neville is looking for a "safe" wife who will maintain his mansion as a home and social venue, instead of running off with another man like his ex-wife.


Hotel du Lac



Anita Brookner


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