Everything in Hotel du Lac is seen through the eyes of Edith Hope, a diffident and unassuming writer of popular romantic fiction who is staying in a hotel of former splendor beside Lake Geneva, apparently against her will. She has been temporarily banished from London in some kind of disgrace. The hotel, the few guests who are lingering on to the end of the season, and the events which have led to Edith’s reluctant vacation are described in an elegantly written third-person account of her thoughts, reminiscences, and observations and through the long and loving letters she writes to David Simmonds, a married man with a family, with whom she has been having a clandestine affair.
The letters are full of wryly amused accounts of her fellow guests and their behavior, but she makes only cursory references to her encounters with Philip Neville, a cool and immaculate businessman who has recently turned up at the hotel. Not until the end of the novel is it revealed that none of the letters had been posted.
The only other guests are an elderly aristocrat, Madame de Bonneuil; the beautiful but painfully thin Monica, “Lady X,” with her little dog; and the rich, glamorous, elderly widow Iris Pusey and her voluptuous daughter, Jennifer Pusey. Through her observations of these women, Edith tries to come to grips with her own emotional dilemma, which is revealed in gradual stages.
Although Edith loved David and was never happier than when ministering to his insatiable lust for food, she had been depressed by the infrequency of his visits. After meeting Geoffrey Long, a prosperous but very boring businessman, at a party given by her...
(The entire section is 683 words.)