Brookner and a bathtub

When I was looking online for a hotel to stay in for one night in Turin I did as I typically would do and tried to find some cool boutique hotel in an interesting neighborhood. There were some pretty interesting options but I decided I wanted something close to the train station and/or the Teatro Regio. In making that choice I was somewhat limited in my choice of the types of hotels available. As I started to comb through the rather uninspiring options I thought, you’ll be alps adjacent, why not stay in a grand old hotel that an Anita Brookner character might choose. Something that looks like it would have porters and telegrams and mature women travelling with their adult daughters.

The thing is, by the time my trip rolled around I had forgotten that was my motivation. And then an interesting thing happened on the train…but first…When I bought my train ticket for the one-hour trip from Milan to Turin I somewhat impulsively chose a first class ticket. The price difference wasn’t all that much and with my tummy issues, anything I could do to minimize possible annoyances seemed like a good idea. As I sat comfortably in my seat watching the snow-capped mountains in the distance I noticed this character…

My first thought was that she looked like someone who could be one of the more glamorous characters in a Brookner novel. (Again, I had totally forgot about my Brookner-related hotel choice.) Then the gentle lady spoke to her husband. She was English. Check. They were discussing how the 59-minute train delay was going to make them miss their connection to Switzerland. Check. It seems they are English but have a house in the Swiss Alps. Check. Then gets on the phone to someone (a housekeeper perhaps) in Switzerland to tell her they wouldn’t be arriving until the next day and asking how much snow there had been and whether the huskies had been out yet. Check and Check. I’m pretty sure Brookner never overtly discussed the snow in Switzerland in her novels or mentioned many dogs, and certainly not huskies. But seriously, how could this woman not be a secondary Brookner character? I almost asked her if her name was Dolly. [If you’ve never read Brookner none of this makes much sense.]

So then I get to my hotel in Turin, feeling both tired and still nursing the dull pain in my stomach, and it slowly begins to dawn on me that this was to be my Brookner hotel. If I had stayed true to Brookner form I should have had tea sent up to my room, but I didn’t. 

I made it an early night and was asleep by 9:30. Check. It was a warm room, perhaps too warm, and I had fitful but dreamless sleep. Check. Rather than feel the need to do much in the way of sightseeing the next morning, I took a long hot bath and lounged in my room until check out time. Check and check.

9 thoughts on “Brookner and a bathtub

  1. Troy March 3, 2019 / 7:52 pm

    Don’t know Brookner but this is the first post I’ve read on your blog and loved it! I’ll look into Brookner – and those places! Thx for sharing.


    • Thomas March 16, 2019 / 3:13 pm

      Some may find her an acquired taste.


  2. BookerTalk March 4, 2019 / 2:23 am

    That looks more grand than I’d expect with Brookner but what’s great looking hotel in any case. Am rather envious


    • Thomas March 4, 2019 / 7:49 am

      Oh, I definitely think it’s of the right socio-economic for many if not most of her travelling characters. The Swiss version would perhaps be more austere in color palette…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Sarah Faragher March 4, 2019 / 4:03 pm

    I love that you stayed here to feel like a character in a Brookner novel. And I love the husband’s cardigan. Thanks for writing up your journeys, Thomas. Doing so helps those of us who are snowbound, not to mention travel-timid.


    • Thomas March 16, 2019 / 3:13 pm

      And to have her show up and make it all seem so real.


  4. gail in Washington State March 13, 2019 / 10:09 am

    omgoodness…LOVE the lady on the train…that thing around her neck…just the gold wedding band and yes, her husband’s sweater!
    btw…I read Train Dreams. 5 stars for me. I live on the Pacific Coast and the train winds along the waterfront. I have heard the trains at night all my life and they are sometimes part of my dreams, too.


    • Thomas March 16, 2019 / 3:16 pm

      She was fun to listen to as well. Glad to hear you liked Train Dreams as well. I just read a novella called A Whole Life by Robert Seethaler that was so similar it was kind of weird–and other readers on Goodreads agree on that–but just as good.


      • Gail in Washington State March 16, 2019 / 8:39 pm

        Yup…I read A Whole Life, too.


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