WINNER of the Booker Prize 1984
(Book #9 for 2007)
Into the rarefied atmosphere of the Hotel du Lac timidly walks Edith Hope, romantic novelist and holder of modest dreams. Exiled from home after embarrassing herself and her friends, Edith has refused to sacrifice her ideals and remains stubbornly single. But among the pampered women and minor nobility Edith finds Mr. Neville, and her chance to escape from a life of humiliating spinsterhood is renewed…
On the back cover (Penguin UK edition), The Times calls it “a smashing love story. It is very romantic. It is also humorous, witty, touching and formidably clever.”
Love story? Romantic? Huh? I must’ve read a different book!
Wiki does a better job, saying “her works explore the alienation of a character, usually female, whose quiet, solitary lives are punctuated by destitution and disappointments in love.”
At the other extreme, I had to chuckle at the comment from a reader on Amazon UK:
“I was extremely disappointed in this book. The woman is supposed to be in love, yet in the height of its expression, she utters "Oh David, oh David". She has all the passion of a dead jellyfish. It read like a creative writing student had sat down in a hotel to describe the guests in a rather superficial way.I wouldn’t go quite that far, but do agree that the characters seemed rather flat, and cold. I simply never came to care what happened to any of them. Luckily it was a short book.
Its one redeeming feature is that if this truly trivial piece can win the Booker Prize, then there really is hope for anyone who can pick up a pen!”*
And like another reviewer commented, Brookner seems to be a writer that either draws you in (there are plenty of reviews praising the book, and her as a writer), or doesn’t. Obviously, this book didn’t do much for me.
My Rating: 2/5
This book is now off to a fellow Bookcrosser, as promised. I hope she has better luck with it than I did.
*I apologize for my excessive use of quotes by others, but they managed to say what I wanted to much better than I could've.
MISC: In an Interview with Brookner, she herself ridicules the comparison of her writing to that of Jane Austen. Whew!