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The Paragon Hotel by Lyndsay Faye
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The Paragon Hotel (edition 2019)

by Lyndsay Faye (Author)

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14919119,981 (3.65)31
Member:jocko31317
Title:The Paragon Hotel
Authors:Lyndsay Faye (Author)
Info:G.P. Putnam's Sons (2019), 432 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
Tags:Portland, New York City, mafia, Ku Klux Klan, racism

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The Paragon Hotel by Lyndsay Faye

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» See also 31 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
Set in 1921, Alice "Nobody" James arrives in Portland after a harrowing train ride. Not only has she fled New York, but she's also been shot and now needs a place to hide. Thanks to Max, a black Pullman porter, she finds refuge at the Paragon Hotel. The only problem? This is the only all-black hotel in the city and they are not very keen to have a white woman staying there. But with Max as well as the wonderful club singer, Blossom Fontaine, on her side, Alice stays in the hotel. However, she quickly realizes that not everything is peachy in Portland. The Ku Klux Klan has arrived in the city and a child disappears from Paragon Hotel not long after Alice has arrived...

READ THE REST OF THE REVIEW OVER AT FRESH FICTION! ( )
  MaraBlaise | May 19, 2019 |
Got tired of this author about half way thro the book. The mystery of the missing Davey (the orphan raised by the staff at the hotel) just wasn’t enough to keep my interest. Too many books, too little time. ( )
  Pmaurer | May 13, 2019 |
There was a lot in this book for me to love -- historical fiction combined with a mystery, racism and the Klan in, of all places, Portland, interesting characters and some clever plot twists -- but I found the dialog to be clunky. There seemed to be so much effort to imbue that 1920s flapper setting that it actually became a chore to read the book. Phrases like 'she doesn't pierce any mustard' or 'forthcoming as a spare tire' would take me by surprise and really interrupt the flow of what should have been a good mystery. Also, the alternating story line between Portland and Alice's past in NYC seemed to slow down the momentum just as it was beginning to get interesting. In NYC, Alice deals with the mafia so many slang words and Italian phrases were also thrown in. But in ebook format, the translation for the Italian might now come for several screens so it just became a chore and I finally assumed that if they were something in Italian, they were probably swearing or slandering someone's mother.

Really good ideas, but clumsy execution. ( )
  jmoncton | May 4, 2019 |
Great read. ( )
  bogopea | May 2, 2019 |
A lavish story that is hard to review without giving away spoilers so I will just provide some of my general impressions. Faye’s skill at immersing the reader in the time period of the story shines here. Prohibition-era Harlem and Portland Oregon is richly captured. Faye’s characters are equally lush in personality and development. Alice “Nobody” James fits the bill of a young woman who has witnessed too much and is on the run from a gangster/mafia past. What she finds in Portland – thanks to a Black Pullman porter, Max Burton – is love, friendship and resilience at an all-black hotel where Alice’s Welsh-Italian roots stick out like a sore thumb. While racial intolerance is part of this story, Faye exposes the reader to fascinating personal stories of many of it’s varied characters. Yes, Faye managed to surprise me with a couple of those stories, but they do not detract from the even flow of the main story.

It is easy to see that Faye has delved into Portland’s historic past, including its notoriety of having the largest KKK organization west of the Mississippi River, to come up with such an unbelievably believable story. Of course, I was intrigued by Faye’s choice of title and name for the hotel in the story. The Merriam-Webster online dictionary provides the following explanation of the Old Italian roots for the word Paragon: Paragon derives from the Old Italian word paragone, which literally means “touchstone”. A touchstone is a black stone that was formerly used to judge the purity of gold or silver. The metal was rubbed on the stone and the color of the streak it left indicated its quality. In modern English, both touchstone and paragon have come to signify a standard against something that should be judged. After reading this description, The Paragon Hotel is an apt title for this story.

Overall, while the author’s Timothy Wilde trilogy still remains my favorite of her works, it is lovely to be once again captivated by the author’s storytelling abilities. ( )
  lkernagh | Apr 30, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
A young white woman named Alice James flees Prohibition-era Harlem by rail with an oozing bullet wound and a satchel containing $50,000 in cash. She makes it cross-country to Portland, Oregon, where Max, a kindly, strapping black Pullman porter and World War I veteran, whisks her away to the novel's eponymous hotel, populated mostly with African-Americans besieged by threats from the local Ku Klux Klan. You needn't be an aficionado of crime melodrama or period romance for those two sentences to have you at "Hello," and Faye (Jane Steele, 2016, etc.) more than delivers on this auspicious premise with a ravishing novel that rings with nervy elegance and simmers with gnawing tension. The myriad elements of Faye's saga are carried along by the jaunty, attentive voice of Alice, who came by her nickname "Nobody" as a young girl growing up on the crime-infested Upper West Side of Manhattan, where she acquired the ability to hide in plain sight among the neighborhood's mobsters, leg- breakers, and bootleggers. She calls upon this chameleonlike talent as she embeds herself among her newfound protectors, some of whom are wary of her presence. But Alice has at least one Paragon resident solidly in her corner: the stunning Blossom Fontaine, a dauntingly sophisticated cabaret singer whose own past is as enigmatic and checkered as Alice's. Blossom, Max, and the rest of the hotel's residents dote on a precocious, inquisitive mixed-race child named Davy Lee who vanishes from their sight one afternoon at an amusement park. As the Klan begins to show signs of renewed aggression toward Portland's black citizenry and corrupt cops start throwing their weight around the hotel, Alice is compelled to deploy her street-wise skills with greater urgency to help find Davy Lee. In doing so, she also unravels secrets within secrets that carry deadly and transformative implications for her and for everybody around her. This historical novel, which carries strong reverberations of present-day social and cultural upheavals, contains a message from a century ago that's useful to our own time: "We need to do better at solving things." A riveting multilevel thriller of race, sex, and mob violence that throbs with menace as it hums with wit.
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