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The Hotel New Hampshire

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  55,955 ratings  ·  1,563 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, 432 pages
Published June 23rd 1997 by Ballantine Books (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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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,
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
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,
☘Misericordia☘ ~ The Serendipity Aegis ~  ⚡ϟ⚡ϟ⚡⛈ ✺❂❤❣
There's something a tad demented about this one. I'll pass.
May 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"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
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
The Hotel New Hampshire: John Irving's Fairy Tale of Life


"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 fond
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
Oct 25, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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.
(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
Dec 15, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Bri | bribooks
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
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,
May 15, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
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
Dec 03, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jan 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
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
Alex Watkins
Apr 10, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Nov 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hotel New Hampshire is that book for me. That one great book. It makes me want to go back to any other book I rated with 5 stars and lower them down at least one - because surely they do not compare to this one.

It's impossible to summarize Hotel New Hampshire and have it make sense to someone who has either not read it, or not read anything else by Irving. It contains bears, little people, taxidermy and radicals. The story has many fantastical elements - but at the core of this novel is a story
Jun 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to rachel by: Probably everyone I have ever liked.
It was fate that this book and I would eventually converge, I think. My writing program friends from school -- namely Kyle and the girl who started the extra curricular writing group I was a part of for two years -- frequently gushed about John Irving. My bookish aunt devoured all of his older works in high school. I made an attempt to read A Widow for One Year my freshman year of college and it left me cold, for as much as I trust those tastes. I felt little drive to ever pick him up again.

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
First line fever: The summer my father bought the bear, none of us was born - we weren't even conceived: not Frank, the oldest; not Fanny, the loudest; not me, the next; and not the youngest of us, Lilly and Egg.
Marie Ranger
Disappointment. The name was promising, the author was promising.. But it took me more than one week to read it :(
Sep 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Update 2017: I'm bad with names, I really am. I can't remember the names of people I met, of my colleagues or politicians. But nearly two years have passed since I read this book and I still remember all of them: Frank, Franny, John, Lilly and Egg! I'm currently reading The Cider House Rules and that just reminded me, how much I loved The Hotel New Hampshire. :-)

Review 2016
This was one of the most emotional and therefore beautiful books i’ve read so far. The characters were all so well
♥ Marlene♥
Feb 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Read this many years even though back then it was so different than the books I'd normally read I kept on reading because the writing was so good.
Want to read another of his books.
Read date is a guess.
Once again, Irving takes a plot full of outrageous twists and a bunch of odd characters and blends it all into a story that is at once ridiculous and everyday. He has the ability to describe, clearly but without drama, horrific or tragic events, and to explore the effects of those events on a character, but without making the whole story, or the whole character, about the event. He's an excellent story-teller, and his knack of oddity clicks very nicely with my love of the surreal.
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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
“You've got to get obsessed and stay obsessed.” 1490 likes
“Keep passing the open windows.” 362 likes
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