Christina's Reviews > The Hotel New Hampshire

The Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving
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's review
Sep 09, 2008

it was amazing
bookshelves: 2009, fiction
Read in March, 2009

I didn't expect to like this one as much as I did - I expected it to be not quite as good as The World according to Garp or A Prayer for Owen Meany, but fact is - I really liked it. I'm pretty sure that the only reason that the other books are ranked higher is that I've read them several times and this one was a first read.

There are several things in this book that remind me of Garp - the bears, the whores, Vienna, Sorrow reminds me of the Under Toad, both books have children going to a school because they have parents on the Faculty etc - I like being reminded of Garp this way because I love that book but I also really like how Irving has created a so completely different book even though some of the elements are the same.

This is a story of a weird family. A family of seven with the addition of a grandfather or old Jewish animal trainer - and of course, a couple of bears thrown in for good measure. It's the story of three very different Hotel New Hampshires. And most of all it's the story of the five Berry children. Frank, the oldest who's queer. Fanny - the star of them all. John, the narrator and weightlifter. Lily who's small and finally Egg, the youngest who's just Egg (What?).

It's the story of a family following the father's dreams. Dreams that take them through three different hotels, well four actually, to Vienna and back. It's not the typical american childhoods, these children get exposed to a little of almost everything, especially whores and radicals - and bears of course.

And of course, then there's Sorrow, the family dog. Sorrow is put to sleep because he farts. You would think that was the end of Sorrow's story, but this being a John Irving story, of course, Sorrow returns. In a stuffed version. A very sinister, stuffed version of the old farting dog. And he just keeps on returning - with dire consequences.

It's a book about rape, incest, family, protecting the ones you love - a lot of the themes also present in Garp. And it's a classic John Irving story with weird characters and an amazing plot, so intelligent and filled with surprises that you never know what's coming next. Things happen in this novel that if you just heard of them, you would wrinkle your nose and be ... well, probably disgusted. But the way Irving writes it, it just seems normal and natural.

Keep passing the open windows!
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Reading Progress

03/01/2009 page 13
2.5% "Starting this one tonight. Huge John Irving fan and I've never read this book! Correcting this mistake now - looking forward to it."
03/02/2009 page 66
12.69% "This can go anywhere ... as any good John Irving novel can. And there's a bear ..."
03/02/2009 page 127
24.42% "So typical John Irving, this is - liking it a lot!"
03/02/2009 page 162
31.15% "'We're screwed down here - for life' - at the Hotel New Hampshire..."
03/04/2009 page 196
37.69% "When I started reading this, I expected it to be not quite as good as Garp, Owen Meany or Cider House Rules. But so far, I really like it!"
03/04/2009 page 257
49.42% "We're going to Vienna soon..."
03/04/2009 page 298
57.31% "Wow - lots of stuff happening in this one."
03/06/2009 page 359
69.04% "The Vienna part started a bit weird - even weirder than you would expect from Irving - but it's gotten good again now."
03/06/2009 page 440
84.62% "Wow - really some exciting action scenes for a while there ... Still enjoying it."
05/02/2016 marked as: read

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