2019 sees the release of Ruth Hogan’s third novel, the beautiful blue cover will match perfectly for anyone who’s collecting the physical copies; but obviously, I’m not just judging this book on its cover.
This will grab your interest from the first sentence in a “Say what now?!” way; the bluntness of that first sentence had me intrigued from the off. I also thought it was refreshing that our main character, Tilda was in her mid-forties, so many of the books I read; which may just be a result of my own tunnel vision reading follow female leads in their mid-twenties to mid-thirties.
At age seven Tilly’s mother moves the two of them to Brighton to stay with her friend Queenie Malone; starting out as guests but soon becoming part of the staff at the Paradise Hotel. Tilly loves the seaside, starts dance lessons and loves living with the hotel’s staff and guests; so when her mother sends her off to boarding school she’s left heartbroken. Over forty years later Tilly, who now goes by Tilda has still never quite understood why she was sent away from the life she enjoyed, assuming that her mother must have just not liked her very much. Following her mother’s death, Tilda moves into her old Brighton flat to start clearing out her things. While she’s there she re-discovers her love for Brighton and finds her mother’s old diaries as well as a rather nice waiter in the local cafe; I enjoyed this book so much I’m prepared to forgive the insta-love!
In a clever use of dual perspective writing the book switches between a third person narrative of seven-year old Tilly and first-person forty-six year old Tilda; who at the start I really didn’t find to be the most likeable of characters. If you reading enjoy character journeys and don’t mind a bit of magical realism thrown into a ‘real-life’ setting then I think you’ll enjoy this; I absolutely loved this and knew from about halfway through that this was on its way to being given 5 stars. I’ve enjoyed Ruth Hogan’s previous two novels but for me, this topped them both, I just didn’t want it to end. The only thing that could have improved the experience is if I’d of saved it for a holiday or weekend where I had nothing else to do but get lost in Brighton with the characters.
Queenie Malone’s Paradise Hotel is due for UK release on 7th February. Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for early access to this in exchange for an honest review.