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Book Review of Hotel

Author: Arthur Hailey
Genre: Literature & Fiction
Book Type: Hardcover

From the book jacket:

Once in a generation there is produced a stirring, exciting story set against the background of a great hotel. This is such a book.

The scene is the St. Gregory Hotel in the lusty, tumultuous city of New Orleans. Time: 1964. Through five eventful days we share the fortunes, conflicts, and intimacies affecting the hotel, its guests, its echelon of management. Across the novel's pages stride memorable characters: Warren Trent, the St. Gregory's bigoted, irascible owner; his assistant, Christine Francis, vivacious, ardent, yet shadowed by personal tragedy; Peter McDermott, competent and honorable, but a prisoner of his own past indiscretion; Marsha Preyscott, the teen-age New Orleans heiress, ruthless in attaining her own desires; and also an engaging sous-chef and organizational genius, an embittered young Negro, a despicable bell captain and purveyor of vice, and a humble disposer of garbage who proves to be the keeper of the hotel's conscience.

And the guests: Curtis O'Keefe, praying, fun-loving tycoon whose chicanery would add the St. Gregory to his world-wide, conformity-stamped hotel chain; O'Keefe's glamorous travelling companion, Dodo Lash; Dr. Ingram, a man of principle who defied the hotel and reaped the scorn of his own convention colleagues; statesman, aristocrat, and coward, the Duke of Croydon, with his arrogant, ice-maiden Duchess; the modest, kindly ex-miner, Albert Wells, escaping death to become a friend when needed most; and Keycase Milne, a likeable Barabbas.

These, and others, people the richly woven texture of Hotel.

More than this: a star of the story is the hotel itself. Seldom, if ever, has there been a more fascinating glimpse into the inner machinery and secrets of a great hotel, laid open to the reader by a master storyteller.

My review:

If you're looking for well-developed characters, finely crafted writing, realistic romantic relationships, and musings on the meaning of life, Arthur Hailey is not the author for you. (Mercifully, the book's prose is less turgid, and the characters less comic-book, than the jacket text.) But what Hotel does deliver is a page-turner: a story well and crisply told, well paced, and bursting with details of the complex clockwork that makes a hotel run.

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