A Small Hotel: A Novel

( 24 )

Overview

Pulitzer Prize–winner Robert Olen Butler’s books have looked at topics as considerable and diverse as hell, extraterrestrials, and Vietnam. His acclaimed twelfth novel, A Small Hotel, chosen for O Magazine’s Summer Reading List, offers a more intimate scope as it chronicles the complexities of a disintegrating relationship over the course of twenty years.

Set in contemporary New Orleans but working its way back in time, A Small Hotel follows the lives of Michael and Kelly Hays, ...

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A Small Hotel: A Novel

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Overview

Pulitzer Prize–winner Robert Olen Butler’s books have looked at topics as considerable and diverse as hell, extraterrestrials, and Vietnam. His acclaimed twelfth novel, A Small Hotel, chosen for O Magazine’s Summer Reading List, offers a more intimate scope as it chronicles the complexities of a disintegrating relationship over the course of twenty years.

Set in contemporary New Orleans but working its way back in time, A Small Hotel follows the lives of Michael and Kelly Hays, a couple of the brink of divorce. On the day the Hays are due in court to finalize their separation, Kelly drives from her home in Pensacola and across the panhandle to New Orleans. She checks into room 303 at the Olivier House in the city’s French Quarter—the hotel where she and Michael fell in love, and where she must now contemplate a startling decision that will hold devastating consequences for her family, including her nineteen-year-old daughter. Butler masterfully weaves scenes of the present with memories from the viewpoints of both Michael and Kelly—scenes that span two decades, taking the reader back to critical moments in the couple’s relationship and revealing a passionate love tragically undone by miscommunication and insecurity.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
On the day her divorce is to be finalized, Kelly skips her court appearance and instead drives from Florida to New Orleans, then checks into the hotel where she and husband Michael first fell in love. What she intends to do next apparently makes for some fast page turning. Pulitzer Prize winner Butler is always good for the literary set.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802145833
  • Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 7/10/2012
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 358,103
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.20 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

ROBERT OLEN BUTLER is the author of 11 novels and three story collections. In addition to a Pulitzer Prize in 1993 and a National Magazine Award in 2001 and 2005, he has received a Guggenheim Fellowship in fiction and an NEA grant, as well as the Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He teaches creative writing at Florida State University.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 24 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(9)

4 Star

(5)

3 Star

(4)

2 Star

(2)

1 Star

(4)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 25 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 4, 2011

    A Must Read!

    This is the story of Michael and Kelly Hays. It tells us of how they met, married, lived and fell apart.

    Michael is a lawyer and an emotionally distant man. He has been raised to believe that simply by "being there" he has expressed his emotions. This is learned behavior from his emotionally distant father. His father also teaches him that saying "I love you" is nothing more than words.

    Kelly is a woman who deeply feels and needs to hear the words from her husband but never pushes him to say those three little words. Over the course of their 25 year marriage she begins to despair as she realizes that she needs those words to affirm who she is. This is perhaps due to her father's emotional distance and mental problems experienced during her own childhood.

    We are allowed to see the experiences that have impacted on both Michael and Kelly through numerous flashbacks. One minute Kelly is sitting in a hotel room alone and the next she is at the beginning of her relationship with Michael, and then it is 10 years later or perhaps only a few months in the past. Kelly has left Pensacola FL on her way to a small hotel in New Orleans LA to remember and end it all. This hotel is where Kelly and Michael initially consummated their relationship and returned numerous times over the course of their marriage. Both she and Michael consider room 303 to be their room, and it is here she will end her life without Michael much as it began with him 20+ years earlier.

    Meanwhile Michael is suffering from his own personal demons as he reflects on his childhood and marriage. He is only a few miles away in Mississippi, attending a costume ball with his new love interest Laurie. Laurie is 29 years old, only a few years older than Michael's daughter, and she has romanticized Michael's need for quiet. Regrettably she doesn't truly understand him or his inability to say much outside of the courtroom.

    The irony is that both Michael and Kelly are more alike than they may know. Even though Kelly confesses to an affair, she never says that she wants her marriage to end. And Michael pushes through the divorce without ever saying that he wants the marriage to continue. To his mind, if Kelly wants to stay she should say so without coercion. Kelly feels that Michael should be able to say those three little words without coercion.

    Mr. Butler has deftly woven a tale of longing that ultimately reveals that men and women are more alike then perhaps they realize. It is sometimes sad without being depressingly so and always realistic.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted August 13, 2011

    Wonderfully complex!

    I was haunted by the characters throughout the novel. I love Butler's style!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 9, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    I agree with Anonymous

    The book (on another site) received so many 5-star reviews I decided to read it. I agree with Anonymous' review. The two main characters were so annoying and for two relatively intelligent people, so inarticulate. I'm not going to go into detail because I don't like to spoil a book for someone who might enjoy it, but it was not my cup of tea. I couldn't wait to finish it.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted May 11, 2013

    Fin

    Oh

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 13, 2013

    Lizzy

    Ohhhh da.m u dont do that there

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 4, 2013

    Well written, but............

    This book was well written and moved along quickly. The underlying theme was to keep communication open in your relationships. I think, however, that it portrayed suicide, or attempted suicide as a viable, even romantic solution for the difficulties we encounter in life.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 17, 2011

    DISAPPOINTED

    I READ THE REVIEWS AND IT WAS RECOMMENDED AS A MUST READ IN THE OPRAH MAGAZINE BUT I FOUND IT DISAPPOINTING, MAYBE I EXPECTED MORE, IT DID NOT HOLD MY INTEREST AND I ALREADY KNEW HOW IT WAS GOING TO END.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 12, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    I Love You...

    ..and you, and you, and you! I am not much of a romantic, but more of a sentimentalist. So I did like the novel.
    I don't read reviews before I read the novel, so I am having fun reading the different responses to this book.
    It is a bit schmaltzy, but not Nicholas Sparks schmaltzy. And yes, it is predictable, but you don't quite know for sure.
    So, it kept me interested.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 8, 2011

    Skip it

    I had heard good things about this book, so I was excited to read it. I was very let down by this story. So depressing, I felt exhausted reading about these two miserable human beings.

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

    Posted November 22, 2011

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    Posted March 6, 2012

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    Posted August 7, 2011

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    Posted September 18, 2011

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    Posted June 30, 2012

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    Posted August 20, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 9, 2011

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    Posted July 2, 2014

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    Posted August 27, 2011

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    Posted September 16, 2011

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    Posted November 1, 2011

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