Today’s review is Hester Browne’s latest book The Honeymoon Hotel – which was out last week in the UK and I’m reviewing today because NetGalley was showing the US release date and I didn’t realise…
I’ll start by saying that Hester Browne creates the sort of characters and lives that I love. I adored Melissa/Honey from the Little Lady Agency* and Evie from Vintage Girl (or Swept Off Her Feet depending on when you bought it) is a hoot. Browne also creates worlds that I wish I could be a part of – a bit posh, filled with glamour and balls and parties but in a subtle, achievable way – you can believe that you too could be part of a world like that with a bit of luck and hard work (and better networking skills).
The Honeymoon Hotel is the story of Rosie, who at the start of the novel is unceremoniously left at the altar**, and her life as an events coordinator (mostly weddings) at a posh, glamorous, retro-in-a-Golden-Age-of-Hollywood way hotel in London. She’s angling for a promotion, but her plans are thrown off track by the arrival of the owner’s son Joe to learn the business…
I *really* enjoyed The Honeymoon Hotel – once again, Browne has created a world that you believe in and characters that you buy into – I was rooting for Rosie all the way through and wanted it to turn out “right” for her. I’m quite a shy person in real life and not good with crowds of strange people, but I found myself thinking “Oooh. Hotel events planning, that sounds like so much fun” as I read about Rosie’s job at the hotel. I loved the supporting characters as well, and although he gave me the pip at first, as I got to know him I really liked Joe. I would liked to have find out more about his dad Lawrence (and what he was up to when he kept disappearing) and I wanted a little bit more comeuppance for one character who shall remain nameless in the interests of avoiding spoilers.
If you haven’t read any of Hester Browne’s books before, this might be an ideal place to start – a quirky and interesting set up, an engaging central character and a cast of characters that all seem perfectly real and plausible. I could have read about them for twice as long – and could happily have coped with another chapter or an epilogue of what happened next.
My copy of The Honeymoon Hotel came from Netgalley in return for an honest review – although I’ll probably buy myself a copy of the paperback so that I can put it on an actual shelf next to her other books! You can buy Honeymoon Hotel from all the usual suspects like Foyles, Waterstones, on Kindle, if you’re in the US on Amazon.com or in a new twist, you can buy it through my page on My Independent Book Shop so a portion of the sale goes to an independent book shop near me – and where you can also buy other books that I’ve reviewed recently. I’m hoping that Honeymoon Hotel will be widely available in the supermarkets as well and that it will do really well.
* It’s a measure of how much I love Hester Browne’s characters, voice and world that I’m still coming back despite my disappointment with the third Little Lady book. Although I will say that the first book appeared at a time when I wanted a boyfriend who didn’t make me sleep in a tent for holidays or sneer at my theatre habits and in consequence I possibly over-identified and over-invested in the central relationship, and so the third book pushed me into a rant on the scale of certain elements of the True Blood fans at the end of that series.
**The regulars amongst you will notice that this is my second book in a week featuring a hotel with a worker who was jilted. You wait ages for a book about a hotel and then… etc