1965 Club: Hotel by Arthur Hailey

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I had to read Hotel on my kindle, because while it may have been an international bestseller once, our library no longer carries it. Nor does our local Barnes and Noble, or Indie book shop. It is such a fun read, not only because it “catches the reader by the lapels and holds him through its last crowded page” (the Chicago Tribune) but because it reminds me of life in the sixties. When wake-up calls were made by real people at the front desk, when keys were real metal objects connected to a plastic tag with your room number, and when call girls’ phone numbers were written on the front pages of the Gideon Bibles. (Who knew?)

All the inner workings of St. Gregory, a fictional hotel in the French Quarter of New Orleans, are laid out for us in intricate detail. From the frat party gone wrong, to the fact that Warren Trent may have to sell his hotel to Curtis O’Keefe due to lacking money for the mortgage, we feel the tension suffered by the employees and guests alike.

There is the Duke and Duchess of Croydon who have a hit-and-run to hide, employing the help of the hotel’s devious investigator, Oligivie. There is Peter McDermott falling in love with Trent’s secretary, Catherine. There is a thief, nicknamed Keycase, who obtains keys through tricky means and comes into people’s rooms at night to lift their valuables. And there are age old issues besides, involving things like unions and racial tensions.

This is a book that brings me back to an era I vaguely remember, while showing us that the “more things change, the more they stay the same.” It was a wonderful choice for the 1965 Club; it would be a wonderful choice for your reading pleasure alone.

(Thanks to Simon and Kaggsy for hosting this reading event.)

1965 Club This Week

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Both Simon at Stuck in a Book and Kaggsy at Kaggsy’s Bookish Ramblings are hosting the 1965 Club this week, for which one reads a book…published in 1965. Like Karen at Booker Talk, my library has a crap selection of books which qualify, so I have turned to my trusty kindle, as well as my personal collection, to queue up the following reads:

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1. Hotel by Arthur Hailey. I needed a break from some heavy reading, and so I’m indulging in a plot driven book of life in a hotel which is based on the extensive research Hailey did while living in one, having free reign to both observe and interview the employees.

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2. The Arm of The Starfish by Madeleine L’Engle is the first story with Polly O’Keefe, a generation after the characters in A Wrinkle In Time. How well I remember reading this in 1975, ten years after it was published, already fully enamored by Madeleine L’Engle’s work.

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3. Cosmicomics by Italo Calvino, for in a perfect world I will have time for all three. This collection of stories is based on his imagination around scientific “facts”; as a person who rarely takes science seriously, I am intrigued by what will come to light through the mind of this writer.

What will you read for the 1965 Club? Like me, do you even remember the year? I, do, just barely. I think it was the year my father promised me a “red renting car” when I turned sixteen, as the four year old me fell in love with a red Thunderbird we took on a trip…