Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Redux #9 - "The Hotel New Hampshire" by John Irving

I've had a copy of The Hotel New Hampshire (1981) by John Irving hanging around my place for awhile, but I always had something else to read. I've read and loved The Cider House Rules, and I've also read A Widow for One Year, although I think I was too young to really understand it. Now John Irving is quickly becoming one of my favorite writers. Between not wanting to give anything away and being somewhat exhausted, I'm afraid this is going to be a quick review.

The Hotel New Hampshire was one of the most original novels I have ever read. I spent most of the book in pure amazement at Irving's talent with words, character, and story, wondering where he could possibly go next. John Berry, the narrator, is the middle child of a unique family, growing up in small-town Dairy, New Hampshire. His older siblings, Frank and Franny, and his younger siblings, Lily and Egg, along with his parents, form the foundation of his life. Early on in the novel, the family dynamics reminded me somewhat of Little Miss Sunshine, but that resemblance faded as the novel went on.

The focus of the story is on the Berry family and their relationships, as they grow and move around throughout the book. Often hilarious, but also sometimes heartbreaking, ridiculous, and disturbing, it was always interesting. There's so much going on, this is one of those books that I would have liked to read for a class or a book club.

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