Edith Hope is in disgrace and working out her probation on the shores of Lake Geneva. Friends and family have banished her to seemly Swiss solitude - out of season - until such time as she may recover her senses. Her crime? It all subtly unfolds in Hotel du Lac. Edith reminds herself that the hotel at least provides an excellent opportunity to finish writing her latest romantic novel. Fantasy and obfuscation are her business: they are also in her nature. In the quiet opulence of the Swiss dining room pampered windows languish in luxury, providing irresistible diversion to such an imaginative and compulsive observer: the carefully elegant Iris Pusey, 'respectable duenna', so utterly fulfilled in her desires that she prompts daring thoughts of possession even in the likes of someone as unprepossessing as Edith; Iris' daughter Jennifer, determinedly gamine, who has inherited her mother's profound, if good-natured, indifference to anyone but herself. Edith finds their simple greed heartening, enviable. Enter Mr Neville, devil's advocate, also spreading the gospel of seizing what you want. 'If your capacity for bad behavior were being properly used,' he tells Edith, 'you would not be moping around in that cardigan...Whoever told you that you looked like Virginia Woolf did you a grave disservice.' With characteristic wit and beautifully observed detail, Anita Brookner has created perhaps her most memorable heroine yet. Edith Hope, as reluctant to be recruited by the ultra-feminine as by feminists, adept as a romantic writer yet contending with her own puzzled view of romance, comes marvelously to life in this humorous and touching new novel.About the Author:
Anita Brookner, who is an international authority on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century painting, teaches at the Courtauld Institute of Art. In 1968 she was Slade Professor at Cambridge, the first woman ever to hold this position. She is the author of Watteau, The Genius of the Future; Greuze; Jacques-Louis David; and three other novels, A Start in Life, Providence and Look at Me.
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