The Hotel New Hampshire

( 27 )

Overview

"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 encountered by the family Berry. Hoteliers, pet-bear owners, friends of...
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Overview

"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 encountered by the family Berry. Hoteliers, pet-bear owners, friends of Freud (the animal trainer and vaudevillian, that is), and playthings of mad fate, they "dream on" in a funny, sad, outrageous, and moving novel by the remarkable author of A Widow for One Year and The Cider House Rules.

Hoteliers, pet-bear owners, friends of Freud (the animal trainer and vaudevillian, that is), and playthings of mad fate, the Berry family "dreams on" in a funny, sad, outrageous, and moving novel by the remarkable author of A Prayer for Owen Meany and A Son of the Circus.

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Editorial Reviews

James Atlas
. . .Irving has decided to charm and entertain his readers -- with a vengeance. The Hotel New Hampshire, the story of an eccentric family that sets up house in various unlikely hotels here and abroad, is a hectic gaudy saga with the verve of a Marx Brothers movie. . . .Irving has always been inventive, and [the novel] is crammed with the exotic characters and fantastic events that spill from the pages of his other novels.
The New York Times
From the Publisher
"Like Garp...[a] startlingly original family saga that combines macabre humor with a Dickensian sentiment and outrage at cruelty, dogmatism and injustice."
Time

"Rejoice! John Irving has written another book according to your world…You must read this book."
Los Angeles Times

"Spellbinding…Intensely human…A high-wire act of dazzling virtuosity."
Cosmopolitan

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345400475
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 8/28/1995
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 432
  • Sales rank: 157,558
  • Product dimensions: 4.19 (w) x 6.90 (h) x 1.19 (d)

Meet the Author

John Irving published his first novel at the age of twenty-six. He has received awards from the Rockefeller Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Guggenheim Foundation; he has won an O. Henry Award, a National Book Award, and an Academy Award. Mr. Irving lives with his family in Toronto and Vermont.

Biography

It was as a struggling, withdrawn student at Phillips Exeter, the New Hampshire prep school where his stepfather taught Russian history, that John Irving discovered the two great loves of his life: writing and wrestling. Modestly, he attributes his success in both endeavors to dogged perseverance. "My life in wrestling was one-eighth talent and seven-eighths discipline," he confessed in his 1996 mini-memoir The Imaginary Girlfriend. "I believe that my life as a writer consists of one-eighth talent and seven-eighths discipline, too."

Certainly, patience and stamina have served Irving well -- in both wrestling (he competed until he was 34, coached well into his 40s, and was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1992) and writing. His first book, Setting Free the Bears, was published in 1968 to respectable reviews but sold poorly. Over the course of the next ten years, he wrote two more unsuccessful novels (The Water-Method Man and The 158-Pound Marriage).

Then, in 1978, Irving hit the jackpot with The World According to Garp, a freewheeling comic saga incorporating motifs he would revisit many times over -- feminism, adultery, violence, grotesquerie, and an overriding sense of impending doom. Garp received a National Book Award nomination and became an instant cult classic. It also paved the way for a string of bestsellers, including The Hotel New Hampshire, The Cider House Rules, A Prayer for Owen Meaney, and The Fourth Hand, to name a few.

While none of his novels are strictly autobiographical, Irving has never denied that certain elements from his life have seeped into his books, most notably the pervading "presence" of his biological father, John Wallace Blunt, a man Irving never knew. Raised by his mother and a stepfather he loved dearly, Irving had denied for years any curiosity about his absent parent, but the figure of the missing father haunted his writing like a specter. In 2005, he laid the ghost to rest with the publication of Until I Find You, a searing story that took shape slowly and painfully over the better part of a decade. Writing the novel also allowed the author to wrestle with a closely guarded secret from his past -- just like the novel's protagonist Jack Burns, Irving was sexually abused as a preteen by an older woman. In an eerily timed coincidence, while he was crafting the novel, Irving was contacted by a man named Chris Blunt, who identified himself as the son of Irving's biological father. Twenty years younger than Irving, his half-brother told Irving that their father had died in 1995. Although Irving was devastated by the experience, he now feels as if he is able to turn the page and move on.

In addition to his novels, Irving has also written a collection of short stories and essays (1995's Trying to Save Piggy Sneed) and several screenplays, including his Oscar-winning adaptation of The Cider House Rules. He chronicled the experience of bringing his novel to the screen in the 1999 memoir My Movie Business.

Good To Know

  • Irving struggled in school with a learning disability that was probably undiagnosed dyslexia. Today, he considers it something of a blessing. Forced to read slowly, he savored each word and literally fell in love with language and literature.

  • In a 2001 interview with the now-defunct Book magazine, Irving confessed, "The characters in my novels, from the very first one, are always on some quixotic effort of attempting to control something that is uncontrollable -- some element of the world that is essentially random and out of control."

  • Although the results have been mixed at best, film versions have been made of several Irving novels, including The World According to Garp, The Hotel New Hampshire, and The Cider House Rules, which won for Irving a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar. In addition, the movie Simon Birch was loosely based on A Prayer for Owen Meaney, and the first third of Irving's novel A Widow for One Year became the acclaimed film The Door in the Floor.

  • One of Irving's great literary influences was Kurt Vonnegut, his teacher and mentor at the Iowa Writers' Workshop. The two writers remained close friends until Vonnegut's death in 2007.

  • Irving has two tattoos: a maple leaf (in honor of his Canadian wife) on his left shoulder, and the starting circle of a wrestling match on his right forearm.

  • The influence of Charles Dickens is evident in Irving's novels, sprawling epics with huge casts of colorful, eccentric characters and lots of complex plot points that crop up, disappear for hundreds of pages, then resurface unexpectedly. He writes voluminously and in great detail; he refuses to use a computer; and he begins at the end, writing the last sentence of each novel first. He describes himself as a craftsman and claims that he owes his success more to rewrites, ruthless editing, and infinite patience than to artistic genius.

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      1. Also Known As:
        John Wallace Blunt, Jr.
      2. Hometown:
        Vermont
      1. Date of Birth:
        March 2, 1942
      2. Place of Birth:
        Exeter, New Hampshire
      1. Education:
        B.A., University of New Hampshire, 1965; also studied at University of Vienna; M.F.A., Iowa Writers' Workshop, 1967

    Read an Excerpt

    Chapter One — The Bear Called State O’Maine


    The summer my father bought the bear, none of us was born — we weren’t even conceived: not Frank, the oldest; not Franny, the loudest; not me, the next; and not the youngest of us, Lilly and Egg. My father and mother were hometown kids who knew each other all their lives, but their “union,” as Frank always called it, hadn’t taken place when Father bought the bear.

    “Their ‘union,’ Frank?” Franny used to tease him; although Frank was the oldest, he seemed younger than Franny, to me, and Franny always treated him as if he were a baby. “What you mean, Frank,” Franny said, “is that they hadn’t started screwing.”

    “They hadn’t consummated their relationship,” said Lilly, one time; although she was younger than any of us, except Egg, Lilly behaved as if she were everyone’s older sister—a habit Franny found irritating.

    “ ‘ Consummated’?” Franny said. I don’t remember how old Franny was at the time, but Egg was not old enough to hear talk like this: “Mother and Father simply didn’t discover sex until after the old man got that bear,” Franny said. “That bear gave them the idea — he was such a gross, horny animal, humping trees and playing with himself and trying to rape dogs.”

    “He mauled an occasional dog,” Frank said, with disgust. “He didn’t rape dogs.”

    “He tried to,” Franny said. “You know the story.”

    “Father’s story,” Lilly would thensay, with a disgust slightly different from Frank’s disgust; it was Franny Frank was disgusted with, but Lilly was disgusted with Father.

    And so it’s up to me — the middle child, and the least opinionated — to set the record straight, or nearly straight. We were a family whose favorite story was the story of my mother and father’s romance: how Father bought the bear, how Mother and Father fell in love and had, in rapid succession, Frank, Franny, and me (“Bang, Bang, Bang!” as Franny would say); and, after a brief rest, how they then had Lilly and Egg (“Pop and Fizzle,” Franny says). The story we were told as children, and retold to each other when we were growing up, tends to focus on those years we couldn’t have known about and can see now only in those years more clearly than I see them in the years I actually can remember, because those times I was present, of course, are colored by the fact that they were up-and-down times — about which I have up-and-down opinions. Toward the infamous summer of the bear, and the magic of my mother and father’s courtship, I can allow myself a more consistent point of view.

    When Father would stumble in telling us the story — when he would contradict an earlier version, or leave out our favorite parts of the tale — we would shriek at him like violent birds.
    “Either you’re lying now or you lied the last time,” Franny (always the harshest of us) would tell him, but Father would shake his head, innocently.

    “Don’t you understand?” he would ask us. “You imagine the story better than I remember it.”

    “Go get Mother,” Franny would order me, shoving me off the couch. Or else Frank would lift Lilly off his lap and whisper to her, “Go get Mother.” And our mother would be summoned as witness to the story we suspected Father of fabricating.

    “Or else you’re leaving out the juicy parts on purpose,” Franny would accuse him, “just because you think Lilly and Egg are too young to hear about all the screwing around.”

    “There was no screwing around,” Mother would say. “There was not the promiscuity and freedom there is today. If a girl went off and spent the night or weekend with someone, even her peers thought her a tramp or worse; we really didn’t pay much attention to a girl after that. ‘Her kind sticks together,’ we used to say. And ‘Water seeks its own level.’” And Franny, whether she was eight or ten or fifteen or twenty-five, would always roll her eyes and elbow me, or tickle me, and whenever I tickled her back she’d holler, “Pervert! Feeling up his own sister!” And whether he was nine or eleven or twenty-one or forty-one, Frank always hated sexual conversations and demonstrations of Franny’s kind; he would say quickly to Father, “Never mind that. What about the motorcycle?”

    “No, go on about the sex,” Lilly would tell Mother, very humorlessly, and Franny would stick her tongue in my ear or make a farting noise against my neck.

    “Well,” Mother said, “we did not talk freely of sex in mixed company. “There was necking and petting, light or heavy; it was usually carried on in cars. There were always secluded areas to park. Lots more dirt roads, of course, fewer people and fewer cars — and cars weren’t compact, then.”

    “So you could stretch out,” Franny said.

    Mother would frown at Franny and persevere with her version of the times. She was a truthful but boring storyteller — no match for my father — and whenever we called Mother on to verify a version of a story, we regretted it.

    “Better to let the old man go on and on,” Franny would say. “Mother’s so serious.” Frank would frown. “Oh, go play with yourself, Frank, you’ll feel better,” Franny would tell him.

    But Frank would only frown harder. Then he’d say, “If you’d begin by asking Father about the motorcycle, or something concrete, you’d get a better answer than when you bring up such general things: the clothes, the customs, the sexual habits.”

    “Frank, tell us what sex is, Franny would say, but Father would rescue us all by saying in his dreamy voice, “I can tell you: it couldn’t have happened today. You may think you have more freedom, but you also have more laws. That bear could not have happened today. He would not have been allowed.” And in that moment we would be silenced, our bickering suddenly over. When Father talked, even Frank and Franny could be sitting together close enough to touch each other and they wouldn’t fight; I could even be sitting close enough to Franny to feel her hair against my face or her leg against mine, and if Father was talking I wouldn’t think about Franny at all. Lilly would sit deathly still (as only Lilly could) on Frank’s lap. Egg was usually too young to listen, much less understand, but he was a quiet baby. Even Franny could hold him on her lap and he’d be still; whenever I held him on my lap, he fell asleep.

    “He was a black bear,” Father said; “he weighed four hundred pounds and was a trifle surly.”

    “Ursus americanus,” Frank would murmur. “And he was unpredictable.”

    “Yes,” Father said, “but good-natured enough, most of the time.”

    “He was too old to be a bear anymore,” Franny said, religiously.

    That was the line Father usually began with — the line he began with the first time I remember being told the story. “He was too old to be a bear anymore.” I was in my mother’s lap for this version, and I remember how I felt fixed forever to this time and place: Mother’s lap, Franny in Father’s lap beside me, Frank erect and by himself — sitting cross-legged on the shabby oriental with our first family dog, Sorrow (who would one day be put to sleep for his terrible farting). “He was too old to be a bear anymore.” Father began. I looked at Sorrow, a witless and loving Labrador, and he grew on the floor to the size of a bear and then aged, sagging beside Frank in smelly dishevelment, until he was merely a dog again (but Sorrow would never be “merely a dog”).

    That first time I don’t remember Lilly or Egg — they must have been such babies that they were not present, in a conscious way. “He was too old to be a bear anymore,” Father said. “He was on his last legs.”

    “But they were the only legs he had!” we would chant, our ritual response — learned by heart — Frank, Franny, and I all together. And when they got the story down pat, eventually Lilly and even Egg would join in.

    “The bear did not enjoy his role as an entertainer anymore,” Father said. “He was just going through the motions. And the only person or animal or thing he loved was that motorcycle. That’s why I had to buy the motorcycle when I bought the bear. That’s why it was relatively easy for the bear to leave his trainer and come with me; the motorcycle meant more to that bear than any trainer.”

    And later, Frank would prod Lilly, who was trained to ask, “What was the bear’s name?”
    And Frank and Franny and Father and I would shout, in unison, “State o’ Maine!” That dumb bear was named State o’ Maine, and my father bought him in the summer of 1939 — together with a 1937 Indian motorcycle with a homemade sidecar — for 200 dollars and the best clothes in his summer footlocker.


    From the Paperback edition.

    Copyright 1997 by John Irving
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    Foreword

    1. When Freud gives his blessing to John's mother and father in 1939 at Arbuthnot-by-the-Sea, he tells Mother, "Forgive him, even though it will cost you." What do you think Freud was referring to? A specific event or Father's lifelong dreaminess?

    2. Irving frequently gives the reader an important piece of information (such as that the Mercedes in front of the Vienna Hotel was a bomb) then unspools in detail the lead-up to the action. Did you find this to be an effective method of engaging the reader? Can you think of other authors who use a similar narra-tive technique?

    3. John and Franny's love for each other form the novel's sometimes tense but always solid core. As you read, how did you expect Irving to resolve the sexual attraction? How did John's acceptance of his feelings for Franny affect your view of their relationship?

    4. The author and the first-person protagonist are both named John. John is also the protagonist's name in Irving's A Prayer for Owen Meany. What do you think this name choice says about the author's intentions for the fictional John?

    5. Sorrow the dog is far more potent in death than he was in life; a harbinger, if not an actual instrument, of doom for Iowa Bob, John's romp with Bitty Tuck, and Mother and Egg. When Frank and John see Susie the bear in Franny's room, they imagine that she looks like Sorrow and may be Sorrow in disguise. Do you think Susie reflects Sorrow or is she an agent of fortune for the family? Did the later appearance of Seeing Eye dogs make you wonder if Sorrow had resurfaced?

    6. Win Berry says that Earl/State o' Maine was "too old to be a bear anymore," and laterFreud writes, "A smart bear makes all the difference." Ironically, the old bear is the actual bear, while the smart bear is a vulnerable, angry woman. What characteristics does Irving associate with being a successful bear? Do you think that Susie eventually incorporates her bear exterior into her interior self?

    7. Several themes are threaded through The Hotel New Hampshire, such as Sorrow as doom and the strength of bears. What other images, themes, or phrases did you find repeated in the story? If you've read other novels or stories by John Irving, discuss any themes that are common to those works and The Hotel New Hampshire.

    8. With the exception of John's mother, nearly all the women in this novel take money for sex, have been raped, or seem asexual. Why do you think the author created his characters this way? How do the women characters' sexual experiences compare to the men's? Do these women's sexuality propel the story as much as Win Berry's dreams?

    9. After their mother and Egg die, Franny tells her surviving siblings, "From now on, I'm mainly a mother.... The shit detectors are gone, so I'm left to detect it. I point out the shit—that's my role." Do you think this was their mother's role—and every mother's role? Does Franny do a good job being a mother? In what ways does she succeed or fail?

    10. While in Vienna, Win Berry's children often agree that their father is "blind" long before he literally is. Do you think Win Berry's physical blindness "opened his eyes"? How much of his personality seems to be his own and how much of it is Freud's? After becoming a blind hero in Vienna, does Win veer closer to becoming like Freud or does he start treading his own path?

    11. Why do the old whore and the old radical have the same name, Old Billig? Why are they referred to as billig, or "cheap"?

    12. Do you see the years spent in Vienna as a time of metamorphosis or a time of hibernation for the Berrys? Who changes the most during that time?

    13. When John ponders how little he knows about Vienna after living there for seven years, he thinks, "I knew about my family, I knew about our whores, and our radicals; I was an expert on the Hotel New Hampshire and an amateur at anything else." Does the focus on the family expand or stunt the individual growth of the Berry family members? At the end, do you think that John has, in essence, made a career of being an expert on the Hotel New Hampshire?

    14. "Keep passing the open windows" is a common refrain among the Berrys. Did you suspect that one family member would fail to do this, and did you guess who it would be?

    15. In examining the motivation of blowing up the Opera, John thinks, "The terrorist and the pornographer are in it for the means. The means is everything for them." Do you agree? Do you think pornographers and terrorists have the same internal drive?

    16. If you could read the story of the Berry family from the point of view of another character, who would you choose and why?

    Read More Show Less

    Reading Group Guide

    1. When Freud gives his blessing to John's mother and father in 1939 at Arbuthnot-by-the-Sea, he tells Mother, "Forgive him, even though it will cost you." What do you think Freud was referring to? A specific event or Father's lifelong dreaminess?

    2. Irving frequently gives the reader an important piece of information (such as that the Mercedes in front of the Vienna Hotel was a bomb) then unspools in detail the lead-up to the action. Did you find this to be an effective method of engaging the reader? Can you think of other authors who use a similar narra-tive technique?

    3. John and Franny's love for each other form the novel's sometimes tense but always solid core. As you read, how did you expect Irving to resolve the sexual attraction? How did John's acceptance of his feelings for Franny affect your view of their relationship?

    4. The author and the first-person protagonist are both named John. John is also the protagonist's name in Irving's A Prayer for Owen Meany. What do you think this name choice says about the author's intentions for the fictional John?

    5. Sorrow the dog is far more potent in death than he was in life; a harbinger, if not an actual instrument, of doom for Iowa Bob, John's romp with Bitty Tuck, and Mother and Egg. When Frank and John see Susie the bear in Franny's room, they imagine that she looks like Sorrow and may be Sorrow in disguise. Do you think Susie reflects Sorrow or is she an agent of fortune for the family? Did the later appearance of Seeing Eye dogs make you wonder if Sorrow had resurfaced?

    6. Win Berry says that Earl/State o' Maine was "too old to be a bear anymore, " and laterFreud writes, "A smart bear makes all the difference." Ironically, the old bear is the actual bear, while the smart bear is a vulnerable, angry woman. What characteristics does Irving associate with being a successful bear? Do you think that Susie eventually incorporates her bear exterior into her interior self?

    7. Several themes are threaded through The Hotel New Hampshire, such as Sorrow as doom and the strength of bears. What other images, themes, or phrases did you find repeated in the story? If you've read other novels or stories by John Irving, discuss any themes that are common to those works and The Hotel New Hampshire.

    8. With the exception of John's mother, nearly all the women in this novel take money for sex, have been raped, or seem asexual. Why do you think the author created his characters this way? How do the women characters' sexual experiences compare to the men's? Do these women's sexuality propel the story as much as Win Berry's dreams?

    9. After their mother and Egg die, Franny tells her surviving siblings, "From now on, I'm mainly a mother.... The shit detectors are gone, so I'm left to detect it. I point out the shit--that's my role." Do you think this was their mother's role--and every mother's role? Does Franny do a good job being a mother? In what ways does she succeed or fail?

    10. While in Vienna, Win Berry's children often agree that their father is "blind" long before he literally is. Do you think Win Berry's physical blindness "opened his eyes"? How much of his personality seems to be his own and how much of it is Freud's? After becoming a blind hero in Vienna, does Win veer closer to becoming like Freud or does he start treading his own path?

    11. Why do the old whore and the old radical have the same name, Old Billig? Why are they referred to as billig, or "cheap"?

    12. Do you see the years spent in Vienna as a time of metamorphosis or a time of hibernation for the Berrys? Who changes the most during that time?

    13. When John ponders how little he knows about Vienna after living there for seven years, he thinks, "I knew about my family, I knew about our whores, and our radicals; I was an expert on the Hotel New Hampshire and an amateur at anything else." Does the focus on the family expand or stunt the individual growth of the Berry family members? At the end, do you think that John has, in essence, made a career of being an expert on the Hotel New Hampshire?

    14. "Keep passing the open windows" is a common refrain among the Berrys. Did you suspect that one family member would fail to do this, and did you guess who it would be?

    15. In examining the motivation of blowing up the Opera, John thinks, "The terrorist and the pornographer are in it for the means. The means is everything for them." Do you agree? Do you think pornographers and terrorists have the same internal drive?

    16. If you could read the story of the Berry family from the point of view of another character, who would you choose and why?

    Read More Show Less

    Customer Reviews

    Average Rating 4.5
    ( 27 )
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    See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 27 Customer Reviews
    • Anonymous

      Posted July 13, 2007

      A reviewer

      I've read several Irving works, including THE WOLRD ACCORDING TO GARP and A PRAYER FOR OWEN MEANY, but this, for me is his truly great work. I think it goes without saying that Irving is one of the most talented writers to date his narratives are strong and his work is almost always character drive, something I find in the novels of Jackson McCrae and Saul Bellow. Also, he somehow manages to show us the underside of humanity without us feeling violated. He manages this perfectly in HOTEL. With a little of everything from adolescent angst, to a bear, to the family's travails in various places, HOTEL is a myriad of fun, sadness, and a family saga that is like no other. As I said before, Irving's works are character driven, and of course you're going to find odd characters, just as you would in McCrae's BARK OF THE DOGWOOD (which is outstanding, by the way), or in the works of Palahniuk. But Irving gives his characters something no one else does, and it's a 'can't quite put my finger on it' something that makes them so real, so alive, that when you finish the book, you're sad to have to close the pages. Now, there are some parts of the book that are REALLY going to turn some people off, such as the brother-sister thing that goes on. Frankly, I'm shocked more people haven't written about this, but somehow Irving pulls even this taboo topic off. One of the things I like about his books, and this one in particular, is the fact that he gives us the story, then steps back and lets us decide about the characters and what's happened. A sort of Ibsen approach to the text. In this way he takes the element of himself out of the story and all that's left is the narrative. While this is certainly not a new book, I highly recommend it, along with the novels BARK OF THE DOGWOOD and the ever popular THE HEART IS A LONELY HUNTER, both which are very good and will keep you flipping the pages. Also anything else by Irving.

      2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

      Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
    • Anonymous

      Posted August 22, 2006

      Spectacular

      Wow. This book is amazing. There are so many 'little stories' contained in the main plot. The characters are all so unique... and FUNNY. They had me laughing everytime I picked up the book. Parts of the book are slightly disgusting, but hey, it keeps it pretty interesting, too. If you can get past the few sex scenes, it's a FABULOUS book. There are unexpected twists and turns through out the entire book, keeping your attention. John Irving is an amazing writer.

      2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

      Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
    • Anonymous

      Posted November 16, 2006

      I didn't like it

      I read The Hotel New Hampshire a few years ago and truly did not care for it. It's well written, but I think it appeals to a narrow audience. It's also a strange book, but not interesting enough for me to recommend.

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted April 30, 2011

      Too interesting

      The Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving is an interesting novel to say the least. There is a lot going on in the story, for me it was too much, but nonetheless I did enjoy parts of it. I enjoyed the beginning more than the end because it wasn't as unusual, the characters seem normal and don't posses nearly as many strange quirks. My main issue with the novel is the strange-ness and how unreal it seemed; the things in the novel may be possible but not necessarily all in the same story.
      From the perspective of the middle child, this novel depicts the life of a family that starts off seemingly normal. Then the father becomes obsessed with a certain lifestyle involving bears and living in hotels and that's the start of the unusual sense of the novel. There are a lot of interesting/different events that occur, especially towards the end, and the end, although strange, is a good end to the novel. Throughout the entire novel, the characters just have too much going on and the novel in general does too. Death, rape, sorrow, and dreams are oddly enough what I thought to be the main ideas/themes and I'm not sure that a novel really needs all of them together.
      John Irving intended this for an older audience, and I think that's part of why I didn't enjoy it as much. I think if I would have had more experiences in life maybe it wouldn't have seemed so strange and unusual to me. The novel was also vulgar. Offensive language, sexuality, and bad natured ideas have a common occurrence. In addition, some of the ideas and characters just don't appeal to a younger audience.

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    • Posted October 10, 2009

      The Hotel New Hampshire

      Have read most of Irving's work, but missed this one! Truly HUMAN! Funny, disrespectful, sad, outrageous at times; a truly good read!

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    • Anonymous

      Posted November 7, 2005

      Absolutely Wonderful

      I absolutely loved this book. The Hotel New Hampshire truly is one of the best books I have ever read if it's not already my favorite. With all the exciting characters and the dangerous scenes, I found it hard to put the book down. All of the characters seem real and that is hard for me to imagine. They went through so much devastation that it was hard not to think of them not being real. Ultimately, I love this book and I would reccommend it to anyone because it holds your attention ant John Irving's writing style is easy to follow.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted May 19, 2004

      A New Hampshirite Fan

      Garp has been a favorite story (as book and movie) of mine for years! Then I read Cider House Rules, which was also very good. I love John Irving's writing style...he is Terrific!! While I enjoyed both of those titles, and plan on continue my mission to read all of Irving's work, Hotel N.H. is perhaps my favorite. So many emotions, great characters, everything you'd expect from the tremendously talented Mr. Irving.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted December 8, 2003

      Great!!

      Read it!!!!!

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    • Anonymous

      Posted August 10, 2002

      Exciting & dramatic story!

      This book will hold attention, you'll never want to put it down. This book is WONDERFUl!

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    • Anonymous

      Posted April 25, 2002

      John Irving Strikes It Again!

      The first John Irving book i read was 'A Widow for One year'. Having been the first of his books that i chose to read (on the advice of a friend) i was a critical reader (as i am with all books written by authors who are new to me) and found that i enjoyed the book. After finishing the book, i took a journey to the closest Barnes&Nobles and found that he had many more titles that i would be interesting in reading...I chose 'The Hotel New Hampshire' (again on the advice of a friend) and found that the book held my interest through the late hours of the night. John Irving has become my favorite author and will probably stay on my 'good' list for a long time to come.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted October 6, 2001

      Memorable

      I first read this book about six or seven years ago, long before I could fully appreciate or understand Irving's themes. I haven't read the book since then, but the characters, especially Franny, and their interactions still haunt me. The somewhat risque and mature subject matter contributes to a riveting plot which influenced even a 13-year-old. The Hotel New Hampshire deserves a second read.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted July 27, 2000

      A Must Read

      If you don't feel like or don't have the time to read this entire book, at least read the first chapter - it is the funniest and oddest book chapter I have ever read. <P>Though the rest of the book takes on a much more somber tone than the first chapter, it still presents a remarkable journey. The Berrys are like any other family - they cope with the same problems, have the same disillusions, and say the same stupid things that every other family does. Perhaps this is what makes the book so wonderful - everyone can relate to at least one of the episodes in the book. <P>Though this is my first Irving book, I was struck by his ability to make his characters come alive to the reader. At the end of this book, you feel as if old friends have left and you yearn to hear of their future adventures. I recommend this book to anyone, though there is some adult content that would probably not be suitable for children under the age of 15.

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