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Tuesday, January 15, 2019

#ATBR2019 Review: The Paragon Hotel by Lyndsay Faye @putnambooks @LyndsayFaye

The Paragon Hotel 
by Lyndsay Faye 

Thanks so much to Putnam Books for these review copies.
Jessica and I are a fan on Faye and her brilliance in these historical tellings are one to add to your list.

Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
Publish Date: January 8, 2019
432 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction

The year is 1921, and “Nobody” Alice James is on a cross-country train, carrying a bullet wound and fleeing for her life following an illicit drug and liquor deal gone horribly wrong. Desperate to get as far away as possible from New York City and those who want her dead, she has her sights set on Oregon: a distant frontier that seems the end of the line.

She befriends Max, a black Pullman porter who reminds her achingly of Harlem, who leads Alice to the Paragon Hotel upon arrival in Portland. Her unlikely sanctuary turns out to be the only all-black hotel in the city, and its lodgers seem unduly terrified of a white woman on the premises. But as she meets the churlish Dr. Pendleton, the stately Mavereen, and the unforgettable club chanteuse Blossom Fontaine, she begins to understand the reason for their dread. The Ku Klux Klan has arrived in Portland in fearful numbers–burning crosses, inciting violence, electing officials, and brutalizing blacks. And only Alice, along with her new “family” of Paragon residents, are willing to search for a missing mulatto child who has mysteriously vanished into the Oregon woods.

Why was “Nobody” Alice James forced to escape Harlem? Why do the Paragon’s denizens live in fear–and what other sins are they hiding? Where did the orphaned child who went missing from the hotel, Davy Lee, come from in the first place? And, perhaps most important, why does Blossom DuBois seem to be at the very center of this tangled web?

My Review:

I've been a fan of Faye since Jane Steele and she come back to us again with another stunner in The Paragon Hotel. I'm not much on historical fiction usually but I've ben surprised lately.. however, I already knew going in that Faye has a talent of bringing history to life. She brings Nobody and everybody into The Paragon Hotel.

We switch back and forth from NYC Harlem and how Nobody, "just call me Alice", came to Oregon, The Paragon Hotel and her reasonings behind what she does. Introducing characters such as the doctor, Davy and Blossom, here comes a mystery I wasn't expecting and the KKK, which I was. I was fortunate enough to meet Lyndsay when she was promoting The Whole Art of Detection and remember her mentioning this is where her next book was going to be heading. I was instantly intrigued and SO excited to get my hands on a copy.

I'll be completely honest, it took me quite a bit to get into this book. The cadence and language was hard for me to grasp on to right away. "Quelque". There's nothing that comes out and nudges you or completely WOWs you in an instant scene or reveal. What we get is a span throughout the ENTIRE read that starts to settle into your soul. If you're a lover of historical fiction and reading about the KKK and prohibition times, this is most definitely the read for you. Don't let what I consider a slow start deter you. At right about the third way into the story, I found myself wanting to take this journey with Nobody.

This time period is such a hard one - we still see racism and the KKK is still affluent unfortunately. Some language and scenes really made me angry and I found myself frowning quite a bit throughout the read. If a book can pull these feelings well... I think it's doing something right. 


Jessica's Review:

My introduction to Lyndsay Faye was THE WHOLE ART OF DETECTION, a collection of Sherlock Holmes stories. I love her writing and how effortlessly she sets the scene and the creates the atmosphere for us. THE PARAGON HOTEL is another incredible historical fiction meets mystery read.

Set in the 1920's, Alice, better known as Nobody, flees New York for Oregon. She ends up at The Paragon Hotel and we are introduced to a wide variety of characters. I was impressed with how well Faye was able to flesh them all out for us and how unique each character was.

This book does deal with topics such as racism and focuses on the presence of the KKK in Oregon. If you're a fan of historical fiction that centers around the Prohibition era, then this will be perfect for you. Faye approaches the topics very well and immerses the reader in the time period. For some readers I can see the start being a little slow to grab you, but you find yourself becoming more and more engrossed in Nobody's journey.

I can see this evoking an array of emotion from readers, such as frustration with the situations the characters find themselves in, but hey, that's a sign of a good book, right? If you're a fan of historical fiction then I would highly recommend this one! Faye has an incredible writing style and I'll continue to pick up her books!

4/5 stars

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