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The Pink Hotel: A Novel Paperback – April 23, 2013


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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

In her debut novel, Oxford-educated Stothard unpacks the story of the recently deceased Lily Harris. Before she turned 20, this free-spirited woman gave birth to and abandoned a child. Lily fled her native England for Los Angeles and lived a glamorous life, never speaking about the infant she left behind. Seventeen year’s later, upon learning of Lily’s death, her daughter, the novel’s nameless narrator, steals her father’s credit card and flies to America. She sneaks into the Pink Hotel, which Lily owned, and steals a suitcase of her mother’s that is full of documents and clothes. So begins an emotional scavenger hunt in which Lily’s daughter tries to piece together the scraps her mother left behind and finds unexpected love along the way with David, a rumpled photographer who knew Lily as a model and perhaps something more. ­Stothard’s portrait of a teenage girl is spot-on, and she has used her firsthand knowledge of Los Angeles and England to enrich the complex cultural backdrop against which her saga unfurls. --Amber Peckham

Review

This book moved and provoked me in ways I can't fully articulate....Extraordinary. (Anna Paquin (True Blood))

Astonishing… the novel speeds to a stunner of an ending, one that is both surprising, shocking, and even inevitable…. While we may never receive the name of the narrator, thanks to Stothard's prodigious gifts and richly woven novel, we come to know her -- and what we know is unforgettable. (Caroline Leavitt, The Boston Globe)

Stothard's prose is as lovely as it is lively… The Pink Hotel wisely and urgently illustrates the difficulty of truly knowing ourselves or anyone else. (The New York Times Book Review (Editors' Choice))

Sometimes mysterious, sometimes troubling, [The Pink Hotel is] a hypnotic account set among grifters, drifters, and modern bohemians. (Carolyn Kellogg, Los Angeles Times)

[The narrator's] forlorn story is bound to make readers ache with sympathy… Stothard is a five-sense writer, as rare as the five-tool ballplayer…. [The] images, which shimmer in Stothard's accomplished, lyrical prose, carry us willingly along on her narrator's painful journey to self-realization. (Heather McAlpin, The Washington Post)

Stylish… Captures an outsider's gape at sun-drenched Los Angeles. (The New York Times)

[The Pink Hotel] is easy to read and impossible to put down--and that's before you get to the twist ending… I'm still trying to lift my jaw off the ground…. Perfect for summer reading. (Nylon)

"A noirish nod to the City of Angels." (O, The Oprah Magazine (A Debut Novel to Pick Up Now))

Startling.... The Pink Hotel is a spellbinding story about identity and inheritance, and how we know who we are. (The Daily Beast)

"Stothard's work is thoughtful and engaging, and she makes L.A. and its many denizens glow on the page like neon lights…. A satisfying read." (ZYZZYVA magazine)

Gritty but elegant… [and] an unpredictable ride…. Stothard's vivid descriptions of L.A.'s seedy underbelly make for an engaging read. (Publishers Weekly)

An emotional scavenger hunt…. Stothard's characterization of a teenage girl is spot on, and she has used her own knowledge of both Los Angeles and England to enrich the complex cultural backdrop against which her saga unfurls. (Booklist)

Sometimes you have to steal your own heritage, and that's just what the narrator of Anna Stothard's debut does, with a cunning stealth that endears her to us across every page. Her escapades are at once fantastic and believable. You won't know this narrator's name, but you'll never forget her or The Pink Hotel. (Tupelo Hassman, author of Girlchild)

Picture Carson McCullers mashed up with Tom Waits and David Lynch, and you get a sense of the unique, edgy novel you're holding in your hands. The Pink Hotel is mysterious, lyrical, and utterly absorbing, by turns funny and forlorn. Anna Stothard is a precise, insightful observer of what it means to be human, and her writing bristles with sexiness and suspense, love, loss, and longing. This is the best book I've read in years. (Davy Rothbart, author of My Heart Is an Idiot)

"Anna Stothard's writing feels both fresh and classic, with its gorgeous descriptions of Los Angeles's seductive and corrupting beauty, its opium dreams and a damaged yet enigmatic heroine. A blazing noir firecracker of a debut." (Denise Hamilton, author of Damage Control)

Astonishingly good...Stothard's writing is accomplished and very engaging. (Kate Saunders, The Times (London))

A poignant novel about identity, and a love/hate letter to L.A. (Glamour (London))
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; Reprint edition (April 23, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1250026806
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250026804
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #390,035 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Anna Stothard was born in London and lived in Washington DC as a child. She read English at Oxford, then moved to Los Angeles for two years. Her first novel, Isabel and Rocco, was published in 2004. Helen Dunmore deemed the writing as "hypnotic, transgressive and enclosed... remarkable". Her second novel, The Pink Hotel, was published in 2011 and longlisted for the Orange Prize 2012. "Astonishingly good," said The Times; "an elegant noirish mystery," said The Independent.

Film rights for The Pink Hotel have been bought in LA and the book is being published by Diogenes in Germany, Siruela in Spain, Picador in America, as well being translated into Czech, Chinese and Thai. She is currently living in Chalk Farm, London, and writing her third novel.

Customer Reviews

I only read about half of this book.
Katie Keltner
I also felt that the ending left the story incomplete, it seemed rushed and even though I didn't particularly enjoy the book I wanted to know more.
H. Barlow
The main character was just a little lackluster to me.
Renee Browne

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By TChris TOP 100 REVIEWER on April 24, 2013
Format: Paperback
The Pink Hotel is narrated by Lily Harris' daughter, whose name is never revealed. Lily's daughter never knew Lily, but she impulsively travels to Venice Beach from London to attend Lily's funeral. She arrives in time for the wake being held at the hotel Lily co-owned. In Lily's room, she watches a fistfight between Richard, Lily's most recent husband, and David, a fashion photographer who knew Lily when she was a model. Using clues she gleans from items she steals from Lily's room, Lily's daughter tracks down people from Lily's past. Although her father told her that Lily was "manipulative and dangerous," Lily's daughter gains different perspectives of her mother as she meets the people who were part of Lily's life.

We often learn about characters in surprising ways -- as, for instance, when Lily's daughter and David compare their scars or discuss their fantasies. Lily's daughter is endowed with quirky personality traits (including a desire for physical pain) that make her a convincing character. She's coming of age, sorting through her confusion, making or avoiding decisions about the person she wants to become. David is older than Lily's daughter but he's also (perhaps belatedly) trying to find an identity he can live with. I'm just as impressed with the thought given to the novel's minor characters -- the gossipy residents of "Little Armenia" (David's neighborhood) who give Lily's daughter their unsolicited advice, the bartender who goes into the back room every hour to feed her addiction.

Part of the charm of The Pink Hotel is that I never had a clue what would happen next. After the first chapter, there is little direct interaction between Lily's daughter and Richard, but a sense of foreboding pervades the novel.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on June 12, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is not a venue that I would choose, but I still finished the book and felt satisfied. Some parts were a little unbelievable, but who knows maybe some adventurous people would not consider it thus. It is a good 20+ book and I'm 50 years older than that.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Debnance at Readerbuzz on January 4, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Lily is dead. Lily’s daughter (I can find no other name for her) knows little about her mother. She sneaks into the pink hotel her mother ran for her mother’s wake. Impulsively, she steals her mother’s red suitcase. And thus begins the adventure, the noir mystery that is this book.

Mystery is a solid one-word summary of this story. Lily’s daughter doesn’t know much about her mother. Lily’s daughter’s dad doesn’t know much about Lily’s daughter. Lily’s daughter doesn’t know much about herself. She wanders around the pink hotel and the other places important to her mother and gets to know a little about the mother she never knew and the people her mother loved and even a little about herself.

I liked this book very much.
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Format: Paperback
"Stylish...captures an outsider's gape at sun-drenched Los Angeles" The New York Times

Lily Harris has died in Venice Beach and her estranged 17 year old daughter flies out from London to acquaint herself with her Mother's life, and meet some of those who formed part of it during her recent years on the West Coast of America.

The daughter (I have to call her this because she seemingly has no name) arrives in Venice Beach, which is a unique place, and is a monumental change from London. It is full of quaint and extraordinary people from the elderly ladies in vast sunglasses knitting on the beach, to pumped-up body builders, from the rollerbladers, to the tourists wearing bum bags over big pastel T-shirts (all beautifully described by the author). Wonderfully evocative of locale the reader tours Los Angeles, out to the desert and back again, and over to the Griffith Park Observatory, the view from which is stunning: 'The city and the Santa Monica mountains stretched out glinting below us like a saucepan of water that was just about to boil'. Descriptions and beautifully turned writing are the hallmarks of this novel.

This is the story of a young woman, 'the daughter', who has spent her childhood without her Mother; although she does have Daphne, her Dad's partner. But there is quite a sense that Dad and Daphne have 'found' each other and the daughter's needs and sensibilities aren't a priority for them, and that she is very much excluded from their tight union. She goes to Los Angeles, where again, she is on the outside, and desperately tries to elbow her way in, to find someone with whom she can have an attached connection.

Thus, this poor young woman heads off into unknown territory to put some pieces of the jigsaw back into place.
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Format: Paperback
What I noticed about the book is that I couldn't remember the protagonist's name. Even though I've only just finished the book. I suspect its because her name is never mentioned in the book. However, I could be wrong. It just felt odd thinking of her as the teenage girl. She's not quite anonymous. But she is nameless. A drifter with a strangled identity.

Occasionally, I do feel that that there is a reoccurring theme with young female authors, a sort of rite of passage that (a few unfortunately follow), before they mature into their writing... This "theme" appears to be an overriding ambition to manifest a jaded, worldly persona within their work which is depicted by casual sex, a hint of incest and the use of narcotics.

Overall, there are sufficient exceptional and intriguing aspects to the novel which make it worth reading. Such as the protagonists observations of her surroundings and of those whom she encounters which is quite refreshing. The prose isn't heavy or banal. The little details she includes in her description of LA, (an LA that isn't always portrayed in films) is fascinating to read. The Armenian community was particularly interesting to read about.
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