Liviu's Reviews > Hotel Iris

Hotel Iris by Yōko Ogawa
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's review
Jul 23, 2014

it was amazing
bookshelves: 2010_release_read, read_2012, mainstream, t_notable_books_2010
Read from January 24 to February 07, 2012

This is a short but very compelling first person novel; I think that the voice is what makes it so good - lonely, overworked and generally neglected teenager Mari whose widow mother uses as unpaid labor to run their hotel Iris (in a Japanese holiday resort by the sea) together with an older woman who serves as maid - so not only was Mari forced to drop out of school but she basically has very little time (or money) for herself and while her mother likes to groom her - after all an attractive face behind the counter brings is better for business than an ugly or unkempt one - she otherwise treats her mostly as "property".

there is a little backstory about Mari's father who died in an accident/drunken fight/?? some years back at age 31 and whose memory Mari worships as he was the only really kind influence in her life, despite his bouts of drunkenness and fights with her mother

so Mari seems to be an easy prey for an older man whom despite his sort of distinguished appearance is first met when he was thrown out of the hotel for abusing a prostitute he brought there; Mari follows him some two weeks later when she sees him by chance when out on errand for her mother and they are drawn together

Things however are not that simple and while the man seems to be the classical sexual predator - older, widowed (with rumors of his wife's death being a murder), living by himself in an isolated house on a nearby island which is little populated etc etc the story definitely does not go that route though it has its share of stuff that may seem twisted.

The language is never explicit and the book just flows on the page; a real gem of a book
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