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The Hotel

3.55  ·  Rating Details ·  156 Ratings  ·  32 Reviews
These were the balmy days of the 1920s. The Hotel was a comfortable hotel on the Italian Riviera, run for prosperous English visitors. It was a closed world of wealth and a setting for the inexhaustable comedy of casual personal relationships among a variety of "nice" people.
Paperback, 175 pages
Published March 1st 1988 by Penguin Books (first published 1927)
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(showing 1-30)
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Nov 13, 2014 BrokenTune rated it it was ok
Shelves: reviewed
1.5* - Blergh.

She did not want to go down to the courts again; she knew that if Mrs Kerr sat on here, watching her meditatively, her play would all go to pieces.
‘I have heard so much of your service. Today I am really going to watch it.’
‘This is one of my off days.’ ‘
Dear Sydney, whenever I come you tell me it’s one of your off days.’ Mrs Kerr laughed. ‘I’m unlucky.’
‘Oh, do you notice that? From the moment you come here I never hit anything.’
‘What on earth do you mean, my dear Sydney! How terrib
My, my, but a rather disappointing read. There was one scene I found rather amusing, but on the whole, nothing really happens, it's hard to like any of the characters and if this is what it was like to be a wealthy British citizen in the late 1920s, post-Great War, then I for one am glad I wasn't part of it. Now Bowen must be able to write better, since her Collected Stories is on the Bloom's Canon, but it's not likely I will be reading that after this experience.

I can see why I wasn't able to g
Lady Drinkwell
Apr 05, 2017 Lady Drinkwell rated it it was amazing
At the beginning I couldnt quite work out what this book was really about. It was like Enchanted April without the enchantment and Room with a View with lots of Rooms in the Hotel and views of Italy but no passion. However about half way through I became absolutely intrigued by this novel and by Sydney, the complicated central character. There are lots of interesting reflections on time, on seizing the day and the sorts of relationship that can help us get through life, all taking place in the I ...more
Terence Manleigh
Apr 05, 2017 Terence Manleigh rated it it was ok
I'm sorry to say that I didn't enjoy this book very much at all until after I'd finished it and then read what other people have written about it, only to discover it's seething with Lesbianism. I thought there was something I was missing. Apparently, though 1927 was a banner year for lesbian literature (viz. The Well of Loneliness), the Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name really has a hard time pronouncing itself in this extremely opaque novel. Now I'll have to read it again, demmit. Darlings, yo ...more
Debbie Robson
Dec 17, 2014 Debbie Robson rated it really liked it
It’s amazing when you read The Hotel to think this is a first novel. How was she so accomplished? How did she achieve, as Peter Ackroyd asks, “the munificence of detail, the fine closeness of the atmosphere which she creates?”
I won’t disagree but will put forward that with all the astonishing skill she obviously displays in The Hotel, I did find some paragraphs almost impenetrable. Yes you can get to the bottom of what she means but they were a little exhausting and made for a very slow reading
Regina Lemoine
This was my first book by Elizabeth Bowen. I liked it well enough though it was a bit confusing and difficult to follow at times.

Bowen's prose is Modernist and she uses a modified version of Woolf's free indirect discourse to good effect. Actually, Bowen's use of that form of narration is probably more similar to Austen than it is to Woolf, though there is one parenthetical aside in the text that is quite obviously a nod to Woolf. I say the narration is more like Austen in that Bowen moves in a
Feb 04, 2017 JacquiWine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Back in April 2016 I read Elizabeth Bowen’s The Death of the Heart, a brilliant book that made my end-of-year highlights. First published in 1927, The Hotel was Bowen’s first novel. It’s a striking debut, a story of unsuitable attachments and the subtle dynamics at play among the members of a very privileged set, all cast against the backdrop of the Italian Riviera in the 1920s.

In many ways, the novel revolves around Sydney Warren, a somewhat remote yet spirited young woman in her early twenties
Dec 01, 2014 Pascale rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It seems to me that in this, her first novel, Bowen so much wanted to out-james Henry James that she ruined a potentially good story. When the book starts, young Sydney Warren has been staying on the Riviera with a benign older cousin for some weeks. In their hotel, she is supposed to have developed an "unhealthy" attachment to a beautiful widow, Mrs. Kerr. But we never see how that relationship evolved, nor how Mrs Kerr misled Sydney or toyed with her affections, if that's what she did. But all ...more
Oct 25, 2014 JoAnn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I usually love character-driven novels and the idea of a group of characters in a closed setting (a hotel on the Italian Riviera in the 1920's in this case) sounds especially appealing. But for such a short book, The Hotel took me an awfully long time to read.

The Hotel is not a novel to read for the story; there is actually very little in the way of plot. It's all about relationships - some existing, but most are new. It is well-written and perceptive, but it's also cold... distant, chilly, perh
Jun 08, 2011 Ellen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another excellent novel by Elizabeth Bowen. The main gist of the book is commentary on the British upper-class society and it's prejudices and problems caused by this. The story is about British travelers who are staying in a hotel on the Italian coast and their interactions.

The characters are well-drawn, with both men and women equally well portrayed. There is romance, friendship, and much more going on in the book, and it will keep you reading. Bowen's style is lovely, and her descriptions oft
Jan 05, 2010 Nicholas rated it it was ok
I was wanting to love her -- lesbian! Early 20th-century! Something of a classic. But this took me FOREVER to get through. I was bored, and yet it was completely up my alley: sea resort hotel populated by upper-middle class British people. Comedy of manners. But not so funny or interesting, alas.
Jun 07, 2014 Sharon rated it it was ok
Shelves: abandoned
I bogged down in this one. Couldn't get interested in the characters. Didn't finish.
Sharon Terry
Oct 27, 2015 Sharon Terry rated it it was ok
Shelves: general-fiction
Finally finished this most unsatisfactory novel. Actually, I can't remember now why I wanted to read it - it must have cropped up in another "read" somewhere. However, the reason it intrigued me was that it was hyped as a novel with delicate undertones of things going on between people beneath their superficial daily interactions. I wish this was true. In fact, I found Bowen's writing so opaque that I often had no idea what was going on!

The novel centres on a bunch of English tourists, mainly w
Sep 21, 2013 Maire rated it really liked it
This is a quiet book. There is definitely still some plot action, but mostly Bowen chooses to focus on developing the interior thoughts of the main characters. I turn to a Bowen book when I want beautifully constructed sentences, thoughtful interior monologues (and dialogues too) that just always hit the nail on the head, and an exquisite sense of place and time. However, these qualities just do not lend themselves to a speedy read. Each chapter and page is meant to be read slowly and inquisitiv ...more
Victoria Mixon
Sep 21, 2010 Victoria Mixon rated it really liked it
I've got to say, the abstractions can make her difficult to read. When there's a young teen and his father on the bed next to you hyucking at the top of their lungs over the Marx Brothers, "this collapse had its austere fitness" is just a bunch of blithering.

But when you're reading in peace & quiet, there's such a wonderful, insightful skew on reality to almost everything Bowen put into words.

Plus, Veronica Lawrence, not the heroine of The Hotel but now my personal heroine? "As a matter of f
May 30, 2008 Cecily rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classics
Sometimes described as a 1920s Jane Austen (bit of a stretch), but I see more likeness to Anita Brookner. Relatively light, character rather than plot-driven, but some intriguing and well observed social insights and very unexpected metaphors. One or two grating phrases, but far more brilliant ones.

Upper middle class Brits staying in a Mediterranean hotel. A little confusing at first when you encounter Mrs X and Jane, but don't immediately realise or remember that they are one and the same.
Nov 09, 2014 Ali rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Elizabeth Bowen's first published novel, this is a beautifully written novel, a hugely accomplished work, not my favourite Bowen, but very good indeed.

Full review here:
Jun 17, 2013 Fred rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bowen's first book - perhaps should have been a long short story… superb command of language.
Holly Beaumont
Sep 23, 2016 Holly Beaumont rated it liked it
I was a little frustrated with this book. I’ve enjoyed other literature from the 1920s, and the back cover copy of my edition promised great things - ‘The world’s Bowen creates are so immediately absorbing, the glimpses she allows us of the eccentricities of other people’s relationships so fascinating, that one cannot helping wanting more’.

Well I could have done with more story for one, though I agree that the book’s strength lies in its character studies, and in particular in the relationships
Sep 18, 2013 Amy rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, 2013
Probably more of a 3.5 but I feel bad giving Elizabeth Bowen less than four stars because she is awesome and I think more people should read her.

But seriously...what is happening here? I love passionate yet unspoken love affairs where two people express their fervent love for one another solely by exchanging tortured looks. Preferably while wearing dinner jackets and evening gowns. But this was just a little too unspoken in that there were significant portions where I could only guess at what w
Angela McPherson
Oct 07, 2012 Angela McPherson rated it liked it
An interesting book with some lovely passages, but patchy to follow and sometimes confusing. All became clear at the end. Feel that this book will pay re-reading as I did get frustrated at times and perhaps glossed over some parts without realising their full significance as I lost track easily. Perhaps explained by this being her first published novel as later works I have very much enjoyed.
Apr 29, 2014 Mary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful book so evocative of the era of the 1920's.
Set on the Italian Riviera, a cast of characters who are staying in the hotel.
The bathroom scene was so funny and typical of a time before en-suites!
I loved it!
Apr 02, 2010 Karen rated it liked it
Shelves: 2011-reads
This book started out splendidly for me, I rushed through the first third but got bogged down in the middle. Bowen's language takes some getting used to and some of it felt a bit convoluted to me. Still, some interesting ideas, and I liked the end. I'll try her again.
Mary Lou
Jan 02, 2012 Mary Lou rated it really liked it
Shelves: irish
A selection of the English middle classes are 'over-wintering' in a hotel on the Italian Riviera in the 1920 s

This is stunning- wry, incisive, quite cruel with great insight. Not a bit dated. The characters are superb and the language incredible.
Hans Wiegand
Jan 28, 2016 Hans Wiegand rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the greatest books in English literature. Want to learn what Englishness means? Read this book!
Dec 15, 2007 Lauren added it
Shelves: worthrereading
Not the easiest or best Bowen, but I do love the place this book brings me.
The strength of this book isn't the story but the powerful impressions and scenes it creates.
Jun 29, 2012 Kate rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels

Love the intricacies of characterisation and plotting. Her prose is not yet sharp and wonderful like in her later novels, but it is after all her first. I thoroughly enjoyed this.
Jan 10, 2015 Sharen rated it liked it
Interesting to have read Elizabeth Bowen but prefer Elizabeth Von Arnim.
Kellie Marnoch
Again, very much a first book, but I can't wait to see how her later books are.
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Elizabeth Dorothea Cole Bowen, CBE was an Anglo-Irish novelist and short story writer.
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“the slight sense of degeneracy induced by reading novels before luncheon” 8 likes
“But Miss Pym gave an impression, somehow, of having been attacked from within.” 4 likes
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