As punishment, Edith Hope has been sent to Switzerland to stay in a quiet hotel near the end of the season. She is to recuperate, write another romance novel under her pseudonym Vanessa Wilde, and escape the scandal she has caused. Edith gets acquainted with her fellow guests, learning their lives up to this point, and examines the difference from her own life, a generally quiet one. Interspersed with her memory and narrative are her letters to her lover David, who appears to be the catalyst for the scandal. The hotel and its guests teach Edith a few powerful lessons about love and trust before she can return to London and normality.
This book has quite a number of quirky characters. There are the Puseys, Edith’s first friends, who are thoroughly obsessed with themselves and their money; proof if any was ever needed that apples sometimes don’t fall far from trees. There is the old deaf Comtesse, living for brief visits with her son. There is Edith’s friend Monica, sneakily avoiding meals even though she’s been sent to the hotel to fix that problem. Finally, there is the man in the gray suit, an intriguing but also alarming figure who asks Edith daring questions and seems a little too interested in her.
It’s hard not to spoil anything, since it’s less than 200 pages long and nothing was really starting until page 50 or so. Moreover, I don’t know how much I have to say about this book. It was one that quietly snuck up on me. The ending was magnificent, though. At its length, the book needed something to make it stand out. This is a quiet, quaint little story. Edith’s reason for essentially being sent away is a little old-fashioned in more or less every respect, but that doesn’t make her feelings any less relevant.
Overall, I can’t say this novel thrilled me. I didn’t know what was so extraordinary about it that merited a Booker Prize. It is a quiet story with a bit of a suckerpunch ending, which I have loved before, but it seemed a bit too quiet. While the residents are interesting, Edith’s interactions with them are not the stuff of excitement, nor revealing enough to justify much attention. I’d be interested in reading something else by this author, but I wouldn’t be too excited to do so.
Check out Hotel Du Lac on Amazon.