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"Hotel du Lac" by Anita Brookner

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This book is a little gem of stark emotional reality. Our hero Edith has been banished to a discreet resort hotel in Switzerland for a transgression, the nature of which we don't dicover until well into the narrative. We find in due course that Edith decided at the last moment to skip her wedding. And at the Hotel du Lac, she and we are treated to families of many different stripes and hues. Monica is married but infertile; Mrs. Pusey with the money and privilege; Madame Bonneuil, the deaf matron with the ruthless daughter-in-law.

While "recuperating" Edith receives a highly cynical and selfish proposal of marriage from Mr. Neville which, in her crisis of self-confidence, she intends to accept. Edith does find, however, how unfaithful Neville will be, and comes to understand that she will be an exemplary wife only if she participates in the sham created by the hedonistic miscreants Neville invites her to join. Her refusal of him is a personal triumph.

Brookner has created a deeply felt and honest book. It starts unsettlingly obliquely, but gains clarity as we go. We see characters in sharp relief, actions which will have very clear consequences. I enjoyed this a great deal and recommend it unreservedly.
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