The Price of Virtue
Hotel du Lac was Anita Brookner’s fourth novel, published in 1984. To the consternation of many and the incredulity of the author, it won the Booker Prize that year. The photograph taken after the announcement shows an author wide-eyed with disbelief. And not just Ms Brookner. One of the judges, the late great Sir Malcolm Bradbury, consoled Julian Barnes, also shortlisted, with the words: ‘Bad luck, Julian – the wrong book won.’ With the greatest respect, Sir Malcolm, there are those of us who disagree. Hotel du Lac is the work of a supremely gifted novelist at the top of her game. Not just elegant, insightful and thought-provoking, but still, after many readings, laugh-out-loud funny. So it is pleasing to know from a work colleague that, for the whole of the next day, Anita was completely elated.