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The Hotel New Hampshire

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3.91  ·  Rating details ·  59,480 ratings  ·  1,741 reviews
“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 ...more
Paperback, 520 pages
Published October 22nd 1982 by Black Swan (first published 1981)
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Rosco Betunada which one? I think you have to read the book to get the (in my humble opinion) full history of each of the three!

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Average rating 3.91  · 
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 ·  59,480 ratings  ·  1,741 reviews


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Ben
If you haven't read Irving yet, I think you should give him a try. This novel isn't one of his "big three", but it's damn good.

First off, most Irving novels have some general characteristics:

- They typically have a Dickensian plot, in which you follow the characters through large portions of their lives. The breadth of the novel typically goes through one generational span, but often you'll get (at least) a few beginning chapters detailing the lives of the protagonist's parents or grandparents,
...more
Fergus
Feb 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A COVID-ERA MEDITATION: BEGUN IN FEB 2020...

It’s been forty years since I read this book. It put me on a course that would take me thru almost the entire then-extant Irving opus, back in those depressing doldrums they called the eighties.

So Irving’s offbeat book helped this offbeat guy, through its deification of Murphy’s Law to a murky hilarity that totally reflected my thirtysomething life (and yes, in the evenings I watched the classic Thirtysomething TV series, so go figure how down I was)..
...more
Henry Avila
Win(slow) Berry is a dreamer never satisfied with life, as it is. Always wanting to climb over the hill to see what's on the other side. It will always be better over there! An unhappy childhood with only one parent to raise him, a physical fitness fanatic rather cold but a good man...
The single father Bob (Coach Bob) his wife having died, giving birth to Win. The dedicated football coach at the prep school in Dairy, New Hampshire called unimaginatively, the Dairy School. A second rate institu
...more
Edward Lorn
Feb 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Hotel New Hampshire is book five in my John Irving Challenge, wherein I am attempting to read all of John Irving's novels in under a year's time. On with the review.

Incest is the best!

Oof. Just typing that made my stomach flip. Incest is one of my only triggers. That and the death of very young children, kids between zero and five, their deaths just fucking wreck me, man. Incest just makes me feel ill. It's a core reaction. Not sure where the aversion stems from, if it's natural or learned,
...more
Andy Marr
Aug 05, 2020 rated it liked it
I've never much liked fancy dress. I've never been very good at it, either. It's my mum's fault, really. Every Halloween when I was a child, my mum would throw a black bin liner over me, colour in my nose with her mascara, and attach a sock she’d stuffed with newspapers to my bottom, before declaring my costume complete. Even at seven, I was aware of how ridiculous I looked. Sometimes I decided to throw on some additional make-up or attach a couple of ears to my head just to avoid confusion, but ...more
Brian
Sep 14, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
“It is hard work and great art to make life not so serious.”

If you have read John Irving before you know his work is bizarre, too tidy (usually) and not realistic, and if you can get over that aspect then you have a chance of enjoying his work. He is hit or miss for me. I have read a couple of his I enjoyed, and a few I have loathed. I have noticed that those I dislike are ones he has written in the last 20 years.
“The Hotel New Hampshire” has all the usual Irving characteristics; a story that ta
...more
☘Misericordia☘ ⚡ϟ⚡⛈⚡☁ ❇️❤❣
There's something a tad demented about this one. I'll pass. ...more
Dave
May 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing
"So we dream on. Thus we invent our lives. We give ourselves a sainted mother, we make our father a hero; and someone's older brother, and someone's older sister - they become our heroes, too. We invent what we love, and what we fear. There is always a brave, lost brother - and a little lost sister, too. We dream on and on; the best hotel, the perfect family, the resort life. And our dreams escape us almost as vividly as we can imagine them."

I have started writing this review four, five times? I
...more
Vanessa
Jan 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This is one of my favorite books of all time, and is-for what it's worth-my favorite John Irving book in a world where everyone else picks The World According to Garp. It's the perfect blend of sad and sweet and strange, a combination that is quite difficult to pull off. Irving himself doesn't always manage that trifecta successfully in his other works.

The story is about the travails (and boy, are there travails) of the Berry family of New Hampshire, in running the titular hotel and what follow
...more
Lawyer
The Hotel New Hampshire: John Irving's Fairy Tale of Life

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"A dream is fulfillment of a wish."--The Interpretation of Dreams by Sigmund Freud

One of the benefits of having your favorite professor of psychology as your next door neighbor is learning that he is a very widely read man. We are an odd pair, I suppose. He is 76. I am 59. But through the years we have known one another we have become best friends. We frequently exchange books the other has not read.

It is safe to say that Howard is fon
...more
Rob
Oct 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
One of my most revelatory professional discoveries is also stupidly simple. It’s this, courtesy of Bob Probst: Reading is a selfish venture.

It is. Of course it is. I’m disappointed in myself for not realizing it earlier, because it’s a principle – probably one of the top two or three – that guides my work with pre-service English teachers, and it would’ve transformed the way I taught English in high school. I was reminded of the selfishness of the reading enterprise as I made my way through John
...more
Algernon (Darth Anyan)
Feb 07, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2021
The bear knows this, too: it is hard work and great art to make life not so serious. Prostitutes know this too.

John Irving is trying to write the perfect novel. Every time he finishes one book, he looks back and frowns: still not good enough! So he goes back to the planning board and starts anew. We, as readers, should be grateful for his determination and for his integrity towards his art. Even as he reuses favourite themes, imagery and type of characters, Irving remains true to his vision of
...more
Matt
Sep 04, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I winced, cringed, and rolled my eyes through this. The only other Irving I'd read was Garp and I absolutely adored it...until about the last third. The spell Irving had woven over me wore off and the book started to grate; this one wore out its welcome in the first hundred pages.
I can't stand the precious little phrases the characters use constantly throughout the book (what?, open windows, 464, blah, blah, blah) and the motifs from the author's other works (bears, athletic obsession, lust, ca
...more
Schmacko
Jun 17, 2008 rated it liked it
(This was the first book of my new book club).

John Irving is one of America’s great writers. Happy Days was one of America’s most popular television shows. (Don’t worry this will make sense later)

Happy Days was beloved, but everyone knows there was one episode where everything seems to start to go downhill for Fonzie and the kids; it was the episode where Fonzie drove his motorcycle over a ramp and jumped a shark. Now the phrase “jumped the shark” is utilized for that point whenever anything goe
...more
Jason
Jul 31, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Awesome book. I had never read Irving before, and I have no idea why not. He's like that Deli that you always drive by but never go into, then one day decide "what the hell" and it turns out to have the best pastrami sandwich you've ever had in your life.

Anyway, the story revolves around an unusual family growing up and learning about sex, sports, love, death, failure, success, etc etc. It's quirky and funny and strange - Irving has a knack for finding little bits of truth in truly bizarre situ
...more
Laura
Dec 15, 2007 rated it really liked it
To describe the plotline of The Hotel New Hampshire to a questioning would-be reader is to realize that you’ve been enthralled with a plot that is, at its core, rather silly. Circus bears and run-down hotels, plane crashes (so silly!) and midgets, botched taxidermy and obsessive weight-lifting – these are what Irving novels are made of. This was an undeniably fun read that I sped through, and I picked up another Irving (A Widow for One Year) as soon as I was done (I just can’t get enough). It wi ...more
Thomas Strömquist
Irving is a great storyteller and novelist with characters that come to life in being all but flawless and also by taking views and actions that are unexpected, very much like in life. He also has a few strange interests, such as bears, wrestling and much more and a few of them are in evidence in this one as well.

'Hampshire' is good, but not one of his best, mostly due to it being quite the bumpy ride, parts are amazing and some parts are easily missed. I would start with another one of his.
...more
Marc
Feb 08, 2014 rated it liked it
This novel, the first one I ever read of Irving, left a very ambiguous mark on my soul. I was strongly attracted to the really powerful story telling, which reminded my of Dickens. As with Dickens, there was also the intens and warm interaction between the main characters (almost all of them members of one family) and the sometimes dramatic events they have to confront.

But Irving really is modern writer: the unconventional relations between the family members, the risky cross-border themes (rap
...more
Cody | CodysBookshelf
I feel a little bad for finishing this book so quickly, as John Irving spends years writing his books — in longhand, no less! — and a lot of work goes into constructing his stories, but I could not put this down. Never before I have been that enamored so soon when reading an Irving novel; typically, it takes a chapter or two until I warm up to the world he is building. Not so with The Hotel New Hampshire. I was charmed from the start.

One’s enjoyment of this novel will likely hinge on his or her
...more
Hai Quan
Jun 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: john-irving
I am on page 400 of a total of 450.Instead of waiting to finish it then write a review , I am going just write it as the reading progresses .This way I can avoid having to go back to my memory to make a comment or a critic , since I might not remember all of my feeling after so many pages have been read.
At this moment, it appears to me Irving has created a story with so much idealistic people and circumstance, so far from the real life to make it believable.
However, despite of or may be because
...more
Kinga
May 15, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pub-1981
I've always known about 'Hotel New Hampshire'. I never knew what it was about but I knew there was a book. I knew there was a film too. I somehow imagined it to be something Hitchock-like mixed Last Tango In Paris. Imagine my surprise. So far there is something about a bear. I will finish this review when I am done reading.

Ok. Done reading. I don't think John Irving will ever get five stars from me. Though he is an excellent story-teller - and this is what a purpose of every novel should be - to
...more
Kate
May 15, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
i've probably read this 10 times now. i went through a john irving phase, and i ODed about half-way through. (140lb marriage is a terrible book, btw. don't do it).

but this is one of my favorite books. it would be desert island number three, but it's a little too sad... i don't think it would be a good idea to isolate myself with it on an island to read again and again for eternity. that said, it's irving at his best. anyone who can take a family involved in incest and abuse and prostitution and
...more
Deena
Dec 03, 2008 rated it did not like it
Shelves: modern-lit, bleah
I learned never to read John Irving ever again. I'd like to give this even less than one star, if there were a way. ...more
Jessie
Jan 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I recently came across a review of John Irving's work which claimed that only three of his novels are worth reading: A Prayer for Owen Meany, The Cider House Rules, and The World According to Garp. The Hotel New Hampshire, the reviewer claimed, is pretty good, but too "odd" to be considered great.

It is oddity that makes The Hotel New Hampshire worth reading (over and over). I have read The Hotel New Hampshire at least 5 times, and have found that it improves with each reading. True, the characte
...more
Eyehavenofilter
Feb 16, 2013 rated it it was ok
Well....let me first say that this family is probably, cray-cray even more than most. It drained my life force the entire time I was reading it. Not the first book with incest, I ever read, but certainly the most gratuitous and disturbing. It was distasteful to say the least. I felt badly for the black Lab, he got the worst treatment.. I dunno what people found endearing about this book, maybe I just didn't get it, and I'm glad I didn't.
Irving you really tried my patience with this one, I shall
...more
Mack
Jul 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is an unusual but extremely outrageous and humourous read. I am a big fan of John Irving. It is just plain weird in parts of the story of the Berry Family as their Father aspires to own a hotel or two. There’s a lot of the unconventional issues in the plot, rape, incest, homosexuality and many more unexpected events with a bunch of lovable, quirky characters to add and nurture. It’s quite a tragic story really with family heartbreak but they know that the one thing that matters is your fami ...more
W
Dec 18, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction, abandoned
Well,I give up on this, finally.Tried to read it again,after finding it boring earlier.Same result.

According to the blurb,it has been compared to the "great" American post war fictions,including Portnoy's Complaint,Catch 22,Slaughterhouse Five and Irving's own,The World According to Garp.

Well,I hated all those books.This one is even worse than The World According to Garp.And it even includes an incestuous relationship.Yuck !

I don't like throwing books away,even if they are bad ones.But in this c
...more
Chana
It is hard to choose a rating for this book as there were things I really liked about it and things that really turned my stomach. "Like" doesn't really cut it as a rating but, well there you go.

I love the eccentric characters and the quirky, laugh-out-loud dialogue. As I noted when I read A Widow for One year, Mr. Irving is a very fine writer, better than most; however, as I also noted before, he comes across as sexually obsessed and twisted, certainly he and I are not sharing the same "family
...more
Owlseyes


I have watched the 1984 movie, which is, in some respects, miles away from the book.

Ha, about the book. Just because you name one character as Freud, or you place part of the novel's settings in post-WWII Austria, that doesn't add psychoanalytical depth, automatically. Even adding incest and Sigmund Freud quotes, or recommendations on his books.

This is just the story (funny at times, I reckon) of a dysfunctional American family mainly ran by a somehow mad father in pursuit of a dream accomp
...more
Alex Watkins
Apr 10, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2008
So far this is the weakest John Irving book I have read. His books are always crazy and slightly unbelievable, but this is the first time I didn't believe. Spoilers ahead. First off all I just didn't believe the plane death. Who travels in plans separately, did people actually do this? You drive in the same car together, going separately just doubles your risk. Plane crashes are just so unlikely that I didn't buy this for a second. I really liked Egg and Mother, but wasn't sad when they died bec ...more
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JOHN IRVING was born in Exeter, New Hampshire, in 1942. His first novel, Setting Free the Bears, was published in 1968, when he was twenty-six. He competed as a wrestler for twenty years, and coached wrestling until he was forty-seven.
Mr. Irving has been nominated for a National Book Award three times—winning once, in 1980, for his novel The World According to Garp. He received an O. Henry Award
...more

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