- Paperback: 432 pages
- Publisher: Dutton; Reprint edition (April 10, 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 034541795X
- ISBN-13: 978-0345417954
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 122 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #208,368 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Hotel New Hampshire Paperback – April 10, 2018
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From the Inside Flap
""The first of my father's illusions was that bears could survive the life lived by human beings, and the second was that human beings could survive a life led in hotels."
So says John Berry, son of a hapless dreamer, brother to a cadre of eccentric siblings, and chronicler of the lives lived, the loves experienced, the deaths met, and the myriad strange and wonderful times encountered by the family Berry. Hoteliers, pet-bear owners, friends of Freud (the animal trainer and vaudevillian, that is), and playthings of mad fate, they "dream on" in a funny, sad, outrageous, and moving novel by the remarkable author of "A Widow for One Year and "The Cider House Rules.
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It is Win, a dreamer and teacher in Dairy, NH, who on a whim decides, in the mid-1950s, to buy and convert a dilapidated girls' school to a hotel, at the time when the three oldest children are teenagers. The chaos of running and living in the hotel seems to bring out their different personalities: John is the loner; Franny is the rock; John is the follower; Lilly is the writer; and Egg is the baby. Rather surprisingly, the Berry's abandon, that is, sell, the first hotel when Win is lured to Austria by Freud, not Simon but a vaudevillian he knew from a summer job in Maine sixteen years earlier, to operate a hotel, sight unseen. The intensity of the story is ratcheted up at this point, as women of the evening and a mysterious band of radicals occupy two floors in their out-of-the way, dumpy hotel. Win, having lost his wife to an accident, is so disconnected that it is up to Frank and Franny to navigate the intricacies of running the hotel and deal with a variety of stubborn personalities, including Freud's latest bear, a female who wears a bear suit.
Being in such close proximity to a large assortment of people in these two hotels practically forced an accelerated maturation on the Berry kids, as sexual self-discovery is a strong current in the story. John and Franny, the two best looking of the kids, are most open to various experiences, though Franny endures an assault in New Hampshire with remarkable resilience. A delicate subject for the author and the reader is the love - the physical attraction - that John and Franny hold for each other and the manner in which they resolve that very sensitive situation.
As said, the book is interesting and not without its comedic parts, but nonetheless it seems excessively drawn out - overly repetitious in trite expressions, truisms, mannerisms, actions, and reactions. The most compelling aspect of the entire saga is the very appealing character Franny, who shows uncommon toughness and street-smarts, freely acknowledged by her siblings. However, more often, the strangeness and oddities of the characters and events almost overwhelm; the numerous accidents and unexpected deaths are more jolting than additive to the story. The fantastical vein of the story continues as the Berry's return to NYC after seven years in Austria, having survived a terrorist plot hatched by the radicals, now recipients of a financial windfall, ostensibly because Lilly has written a book on growing up small, but more due to their notoriety from foiling the event. The Maine chapter of the hotel story, actually it is a crisis center for women who have been assaulted, is a time for resolution, a welcome return to normalcy. Over all, who could guess that the hotel business, conducted by rank amateurs, could be so zany, eventful, and lucrative?