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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
6,05561687 (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 (53)  German (2)  Dutch (2)  Swedish (2)  Danish (1)  Hebrew (1)  All (61)
Showing 1-5 of 53 (next | show all)
(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 |
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 |
This novel is the story of the Berrys, a quirky New Hampshire family composed of a married couple, Win and Mary, and their five children. The parents, both from the small town of Dairy, fall in love while working at a summer resort hotel in Maine as teenagers. There they meet a Viennese Jew named Freud who works at the resort as a handyman and entertainer, performing with his pet bear; Freud comes to symbolize the magic of that summer for them. By its end the teens are engaged, and Win buys Freud's bear and motorcycle and travels the country performing to raise money to go to Harvard, which he subsequently attends while Mary starts their family. He then returns to Dairy and teaches at the local second-rate boys' prep school. But he is unsatisfied and dreaming of something better.

The children are Franny, who is self-confident and brash, John, the narrator, who is sweet and close (perhaps a bit too close) to his sister, and Frank, who is physically awkward and homosexual; Lilly, a small girl who has "stopped growing", and Egg, an immature little boy with a penchant for dressing up in costumes. John and Franny are companions, seeing themselves as the most normal of the children, aware that their family is rather strange. But, as John remarks, to themselves the family's oddness seems "right as rain."

Win conceives the idea of turning an abandoned girls school into a hotel. He names it the Hotel New Hampshire and the family moves in. This becomes the first part of Irving's Dickensian-style tale. Its chief plot elements are: Franny's rape at the hands of several members of the school football team, including the quarterback, a boy named Chipper Dove with whom she is in love, and her rescue, though somewhat late, by Junior Jones, a black member of the team; the death of the family dog Sorrow and its repeated resurrection via taxidermy, the first instance of which scares the grandfather literally to death; John's sexual initiation with the hotel housekeeper, and a letter from Freud inviting the family to move to Vienna to help him (and his new "smart" bear) run his hotel there.

Travelling separately, the mother and Egg are killed in an airplane crash. The others take up life in Vienna at what is renamed the (second) Hotel New Hampshire, one floor of the which is occupied by prostitutes and another by a group of radical communists. The family discover that Freud is now blind and the "smart bear" is actually a girl in a bear suit named Susie. Plot developments in this segment are: the father's decline following the death of his wife; the family's relationships with the prostitutes and the radicals; John and Franny falling in love with each other; John's relationship with a communist who commits suicide; Franny's sexual relationships with Susie and with the "quarterback" of the radicals; Lily developing as a writer and penning the story of the family; and the radicals' plot to blow up the opera house, using Freud and the family as hostages, which Freud and Win Berry foil. The family becomes famous and, with Frank as Lily's agent, her book is published for a large amount of money. The family (with Susie the bear) returns to the States, taking up residence in a large hotel in New York.

The chief elements of the final part of the novel are: Franny and John's resolution of their love; Franny's revenge on her rapist; Franny's success as a movie actress and her marriage to Junior Jones; Lily's suicide from her despair as a writer; John's and Frank's purchase of the shut-down resort in Maine where their parents met; its function as a rape crisis center run by Susie; Susie and John finding happiness with each other, and a pregnant Franny asking them to raise her and Junior's impending baby.

  bostonwendym | Mar 3, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 53 (next | show all)
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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For my wife Shyla,

whose love provided

the light

and the space

for five novels
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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)

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