From Publishers Weekly
Love is in the air at the Royale, a Washington, D.C., hotel inhabited by a motley collection of emotionally wounded and desperately lonely folk in this third novel by Powers (The Good Remains
; Crawling at Night
). Maintenance man Jedra Abdullah secretly pines for pretty, troubled front desk clerk, Phyllis, who speaks the ancient tongues, sees angels and has memories of heaven. A Persian engineer, Khouri Karimi, attends a conference at the hotel and meets Patricia, a single mother working as a maid. And in the penthouse apartment, Daniel Espiritu dreams of Brazil and composes a cookbook, My Life in Recipes
, in a desperate attempt to evoke his lush homeland and his doomed affair with the family maid. This fantasy sustains Daniel until Leslie, the hotel chef, knocks at his door. In her lushly lyrical voice, Power fashions a world filled with orphans who cling to ritualistic traditions and the romance of their pasts. The story lines echo each other too often, and Power's characters cleave to type—the women are mostly blonde and voluptuous, and the men dark, lean and foreign—but Power weaves a fine yarn of the lost and lonely seeking intimacy and love.
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Power's penchant for crafting quirky characters who unite in unexpected ways is again apparent in her third novel (following The Good Remains,
2002), a tale of six lonely people whose lives intersect in a Washington, D.C., hotel. Jedra, an engineer working in the basement, saw his younger brother killed in Iraq. He is inexplicably attracted to Phyllis, in reception, knowing that she, too, is lonely and single and has just had a miscarriage. Since childhood Phyllis has been able to "see heaven," and after she meets Jedra, his brother's spirit speaks to her. Another mismatched couple consists of Khouri, an Iranian immigrant whose mother and sister both recently died and whose spirits surround him "like a shawl of guilt," and Patricia, a maid raising her young son herself. Last are Daniel, a schizophrenic in residence, and Leslie, the new chef. Focusing on love and the loss of it, Power's translucent and fluid prose expresses her characters' feelings and memories as she lays bare the insecurities and fears of six fragile souls for whom love is really all there is. Deborah DonovanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved