In which Jack guest blogs a book review
I don’t read all that many novels, tending more towards history or memoir as a rule. But Wendy and I headed off recently to our remote hideaway cabin in Tennessee, armed with some leftovers from ‘World Book Night’. These included Hotel, which she thought I might like.
Completely captured within a page or two, I could hardly put it down. More than that, I didn’t want to immediately start another one, in order to savor the ‘afterglow’ of Hotel. That may be the first time I’ve ever consciously done that.
The story concerns a Chinese American boy called Henry and a Japanese American girl named Keiko who live in Seattle around the time when Japanese are being rounded up and sent to ‘detention camps’ further inland for the duration of the war.
This seems like it would be a simple ‘boy meets girl’ tale in an historic setting, but there’s much more to it. For a start they are in their early teens and the relationship is (for most of the book) entirely innocent and really about childhood friendship. Hotel more explores the relationship between parents and children, and between different races and generations and all against a turbulent period in history. There’s even a search for a ‘holy grail’.
The detail and painstaking research may explain why I liked it so much. From the speakeasies of wartime Seattle to the bleak windswept detention camps of the mid-West, the author puts you right there, peering over the shoulders of the characters.
Without wishing to spoil this for anyone else, I wish there could have been at least one more chapter, though.
A very enthusiastic ‘two thumbs up’ from this reviewer!


6 thoughts on “The Monday Book: THE HOTEL AT THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET by Jamie Ford

  1. I had the same reaction. It’s getting the background (physical and historical) correct that supports a good story line, producing a gripping novel.

  2. Jack, I don’t read fiction either, but you write a mean inducement to do so. This will be my 2014 fiction book of the year ( my daughter lives in Seattle now and is a writer, so this will be another reason to try it out). Thank you.

      • My daughter’s name is Beth (Elizabeth Slattery). She’s recently married and moved out there where her husband, Rick Malleus, teaches at Seattle University. Beth hasn’t joined any groups or found work yet. She taught at Indiana University East here for 17 years. I’ll tell her to check on this group, though Bellingham is a good distance away. (Beth’s in downtown Seattle.)

  3. P.S. You can’t know how jealous I am to know that there are couples who go off to a beautiful, remote vacation hideaway JUST TO READ. Reading is all I care about, and when people said at my retirement, “What will you do now?” I said “READ.” In bed, in my rocker, in my swing, on the porch–Read. I dream of sitting by the water somewhere, lake or ocean or stream, just reading. Heaven. Alas, I’m stuck in a cornfield with He Who Doesn’t Want to Leave the Area. šŸ™‚

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