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The Hotel New Hampshire (Ballantine…
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The Hotel New Hampshire (Ballantine Reader's Circle) (original 1981; edition 1997)

by John Irving

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
6,12062669 (3.87)2 / 123
Member:Yells
Title:The Hotel New Hampshire (Ballantine Reader's Circle)
Authors:John Irving
Info:Ballantine Books (1997), Paperback, 432 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
Tags:READ >2011

Work details

The Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving (1981)

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English (54)  German (2)  Dutch (2)  Swedish (2)  Danish (1)  Hebrew (1)  All (62)
Showing 1-5 of 54 (next | show all)
Irving certainly doesn't shy away from taboos. ( )
  dele2451 | Feb 10, 2017 |
“You take every opportunity given you in this world, even if you have too many opportunities. One day, the opportunities stop, you know.”

The book opens with Win and Mary telling John Berry (the narrator) and his four siblings how they met and came to own a bear called "State O' Maine". The story is so familiar that all five of the children will sit still and listen, often adding pieces of information.

Win and Mary, grew up in Dairy, New Hampshire. The two marry immediately after their summer working at a resort hotel where John has become the owner of a performing bear called State O' Maine who later is renamed Earl. Win uses the bear as a means of earning a living until he has enough money to attend Harvard. Mary remains at home, having the first three children rapidly. Win is then drafted and the last two children aren't born until after his return.

When the local girls' school closes Win buys the abandoned building and turns it into a hotel, the Hotel New Hampshire. John and his siblings grow up in Dairy and attend Dairy school, however their lives are hardly idyllic culminating in the eldest daughter,Franny, being gang raped by members of the local football team. The hotel is struggling but when Win is offered the chance to take the family to Vienna where he will once again run a hotel he decides to uproot his family to Europe . However,disaster strikes when the plane on which Mother and Egg,the youngest child, are travelling crashes and both are killed. At the hotel in Vienna there is a woman named Susie dressed as a bear who serves as security as the hotel is the base of a small group of prostitutes and some revolutionaries. Seven years later the family later uncovers and foils terrorist plot to blow up the Vienna State Opera House but not without cost. Their friend and benefactor Freud is killed and Win blinded but the family has become overnight heroes giving them the opportunity to move back to the States.

Partially due to their fame, youngest daughter Lilly becomes a successful author with eldest son Frank as her agent. Meanwhile, Win has convinced the family to purchase yet another hotel, the abandoned resort where he met Mary. They agree but rather than opening it as a hotel they open it as a rape crisis centre run by Susie, the "bear" from Vienna who is also on hand when Franny confronts her rapist.

Now there are definite similarities with this novel and Irving's The World According to Garp, notably Vienna and Viennese prostitutes but unlike the former novel this one contains a lot less dysfunctional family unit. In fact the importance of family is a key theme, as disaster strikes the Berry family they support one another. Maturing from childhood into adulthood and coming to terms with desires in the real world and a world of illusion are also key elements. However, like TWAtG Irving weaves and wondrous fantasy tale with a dry wit throughout. Not as good as TWAtG but a fine stand alone read all the same. ( )
  PilgrimJess | Jan 22, 2017 |
(7.5) Well! What a cast of characters. I guess it could be what you might expect in a hotel setting.
Win Berry and his wife have five children. Win decides to purchase an old private school building and convert it into a hotel. The town is not known for its tourist population, so they have very few guests. Win's father, the coach from the local high school, moves in with them. Their life is disrupted when their oldest daughter Franny is raped by several of the players in the school football team. It has a huge impact on all members of the family. A further tragedy occurs and we follow this family as they carry this burden through the next thirty years from America to Vienna and their second hotel. This is peopled with even more eccentric characters. Aspects of this period may be hard for some readers to digest. With prostitutes and pornographers and adolescents, there is a heavy emphasis on sexual activity.
This book is definitely a different reading experience and I can't imagine what company the author keeps to create such an idiosyncratic cast. However, I still wanted to know what was to become of them all. ( )
  HelenBaker | Sep 27, 2016 |
Fantastic! Irving never fails to drag me into his world full of bears, hotels, dreams and sorrow. The Hotel New Hampshire is a fun, hilarious book that becomes tragically sad in an instant every other chapter. Irving set down perhaps my favorite of his families; the most eccentric one, at least.

And perhaps the ultimate quality of Irving is his ability to show how one's life is shaped by childhood, how one can never let certain things go. Dealing with the past, and dealing with one's family, is the task of every single one of the Berry family members throughout this book. Each does it in their own, eccentric, often bizarrely metaphorical way. Some of them succeed, some of them are not given a chance, and as time passes by, and each Berry becomes older, you remember their childhoods as if they were your own. Reading Irving truly is like reading a life-story, maybe not a perfectly realistic one, but one that makes sense, one that is human.
1 vote bartt95 | Jul 17, 2016 |
After "Garp" I got on a real John Irving kick and this was one of my reads. My enduring memory of this book is that it has one of the craziest families ever written. I really enjoyed this book and there was no way a movie could do it justice. ( )
  mamashepp | Mar 29, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 54 (next | show all)
Irving certainly doesn't shy away from taboos.
 
Like a fairy tale - and Irving reminds us with tireless zeal that his novel is a fairy tale -''The Hotel New Hampshire'' is both fanciful and cruel. The Berry family is oddly susceptible to disaster; suicides, airplane crashes, blindings by terrorist bombs abound. Nor is this feisty crew beyond wreaking havoc among themselves. ''To each other, we were as normal and nice as the smell of bread, we were just a family,'' observes the narrator (named John, in the autobiographical fashion of the day); but sibling incest is a dominant motif, and their incessant colloquys are conducted in a language heavy with insult and innuendo.
 
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Dedication
For my wife Shyla,

whose love provided

the light

and the space

for five novels
First words
The summer my father bought the bear, none of us was born - we weren't even conceived: not Frank, the oldest; not Franny, the loudest; not me, the next; and not the youngest of us, Lilly and Egg.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 034541795X, Paperback)

“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 Prayer for Owen Meany and Last Night in Twisted River.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:22 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

A novel narrated by the middle son in a family of five children, one bear, and one dog. Describes the Berry family growing up in three different hotels on two separate continents.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 3 descriptions

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