The Bonneville Hotel is the best-kept secret in London: its elegant rooms and discreet wood-paneled cocktail lounge were the home-away-from-home for royalty and movie stars alike during the golden age of glamour. Recent years haven’t been kind, but thanks to events manager Rosie, it’s reclaiming some of its old cachet as a wish list wedding venue. While Rosie’s weddings are the ultimate in romance, Rosie herself isn’t; her focus is fixed firmly on the details, not on the dramas. She lives with a professionally furious food critic and works tirelessly toward that coveted promotion. But when the hotel owner appoints his eccentric son Joe to help run Rosie’s department, she’s suddenly butting heads with the free spirit whose predilection for the unconventional threatens to unravel her picture-perfect plans for the most elaborate—not to mention high-profile—wedding the hotel has ever seen, a wedding that could make or break not only the hotel’s reputation, but also Rosie’s career.
From the author whose books are described as “deliciously addictive” (Cosmopolitan), Honeymoon Hotel will reaffirm your belief in happily ever after.
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About the Author
Reading Group Guide
This reading group guide for Honeymoon Hotel includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.
The Bonneville Hotel is the best-kept secret in London: During the golden age of glamour, it was home to royalty and movie stars alike, but recent years haven’t been kind to it. But now, thanks to Rosie—the Bonneville’s ambitious, by-the-books event planner—the hotel is beginning to reclaim some of its old cachet as a wish list wedding venue.
While Rosie’s weddings are the ultimate in romance, Rosie herself isn’t; her focus is fixed firmly on the details, not on the dramas. She lives with a professionally furious food critic and works tirelessly toward a coveted promotion. But when the hotel owner appoints his eccentric son, Joe, to help run Rosie’s department, she’s suddenly butting heads with the free spirit whose predilection for the unconventional threatens to unravel her picture-perfect plans for the most elaborate—not to mention high-profile—wedding the hotel has ever seen, a wedding that could make or break not only the hotel’s reputation, but also Rosie’s career.
From author Hester Browne, whose books are described as “deliciously addictive” (Cosmopolitan), Honeymoon Hotel will reaffirm your belief in happily ever after.
Topics & Questions for Discussion
1. Rosie says, “the secret to being the best wedding planner is . . . Never think of yourself as a wedding planner. Because that way madness lies” (p. 5). Why would identifying as a wedding planner be problematic for Rosie? As you read about her job, were there any parts of it that surprised you? Which ones, if any, and why?
2. Rosie tells the reader that her boyfriend, Dominic, “was a firm believer in tough talking; he got his agent to do it for him all the time” (p. 26), and that because Dominic had had a lot of therapy, he “felt no hesitation about telling people what they were really thinking” (p. 28). Did these comments sway your opinions of Dominic? If yes, how? What did you think about Dominic when you first encountered him? What do you think Rosie sees in Dominic?
3. After Helen confides to Rosie that she and Seamus have had a fight, she excuses Seamus’s behavior, saying, “It’s good that he has passion, though. It’s what makes him the brilliant chef he is” (p. 77). Although Rosie agrees, she tells the reader: “Helen carried on staring at me, a helpless look in her eyes, as if this time she hoped I’d say something different” (p. 77). Why do you think Rosie agrees with Helen even though she thinks Seamus is a bad boyfriend? Do you agree with her decision not to tell Helen the truth? Why, or why not? And why is Rosie finally honest with Helen?
4. Describe Rosie’s first encounter with Joe. Why do you think that Rosie is so flustered upon discovering him? How does this initial encounter foreshadow the rest of the story?
5. Who is Betty Confetti, and what role does she play in Dominic’s columns? When Helen asks Rosie about her diet after reading one of Dominic’s reviews, Rosie thinks: “Betty was just for the column. She wasn’t me” (p. 73). In what ways does that statement prove prescient? Were you surprised by Rosie’s discovery? Why, or why not?
6. While Helen is dating Seamus, she tells Rosie that she wants to go on a double date with Rosie and Dominic so that Seamus can see a model of the relationship that she wants. When Rosie questions whether her relationship is a good model, Helen answers: “Even the way you squabble is funny. Like you’re really comfortable with each other” (p. 172). Why do you think Helen idealizes Rosie’s relationship with Dominic? How does Helen’s idealization measure up to the reality?
7. Rosie describes Joe as “that window letting a sharp spring breeze into a room. Sort of refreshing but also, well . . .” (p. 118). What effect does Joe have on Rosie and the rest of the people who encounter him at the Bonneville Hotel? Did you like Joe when you first encountered him, or, like Rosie, did you find him to be a nuisance? Explain why. Did your opinion of Joe change as you read the book? Why, or why not?
8. There’s a lot of speculation among the staff of the Bonneville Hotel about why Joe moved back to England. Were you surprised to learn the reason Joe left the United States? What was it?
9. After the Bonneville Hotel’s New Year’s Eve party, Joe asks Rosie, “Do you always have to do things the most difficult way?” (p. 292). Do you think that Rosie makes things harder for herself and others? Give examples.
10. Regarding friendship, Rosie says, “Sometimes friendships are more about what you don’t say than what you do” (p. 000). Explain her statement. Are there circumstances in Honeymoon Hotel where the characters hold their tongues in order to protect one another? What are they?
11. At Helen and Wynn’s wedding, Rosie realizes that Helen “looked loved. That’s what she and Wynn had in common; they loved each other. And, different or not, their lives would grow together around that” (p. 397). Compare and contrast Helen’s relationship with Wynn with her relationship with Seamus. What do you think of Wynn? In what ways are he and Helen a good match for each other?
12. Compare Joe’s style of wedding planning with Rosie’s. Do you agree with Rosie that “we do everything we can to make sure we fulfill the bride’s and groom’s dreams, but it’s a service. It’s not our job to get involved in their relationship” (p. 114). Explain your reasoning. Based on his actions, what role does Joe think a wedding planner should fill? Do you think that Rosie and Joe fulfill their duties? Give examples to support your opinion.
13. Although Rosie thinks weddings should be perfect, Joe disagrees, telling her: “No one remembers perfect. But they do remember fun” (p. 235). Whom do you agree with, and why? Are there any particularly memorable wedding moments in Honeymoon Hotel? What are they, and what makes them so memorable?
Enhance Your Book Club
1. Joe tells Rosie that “cock-ups are life’s way of making things interesting” (p. 251). Do you agree with this statement? Share some examples from your own life of circumstances where things went wrong and ended up turning out for the better.
2. Tea is one of the Bonneville Hotel’s signature events. Prepare a tea like the hotel’s for your next book club meeting.
3. Read some of Hester Browne’s other books and discuss them with your book club. Which was your favorite, and why?
4. To learn more about Hester Browne and her other books, visit her official website at www.hesterbrowne.com.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Thanks to NetGalley, this long-time fan of Hester Browne's writing was able to review an advance reading copy of Honeymoon Hotel, and I declare it a home-run. While readers might be able to figure out who becomes a couple and who splits up long before the end of the book, the journey that Ms. Browne takes us on is delightful. Jilted-at-the-alter Rosie MacDonald is an event planner extraordinaire at the historic, exclusive Bonneville Hotel in London. She plans fabulous, dream weddings with the aid of a crack staff until the boss' son, Joe, is thrown into the mix as her assistant so that he can learn the hotel trade. Their radically different approaches to life and views on events makes for many missteps in the event calendar and questions about life choices. Joe's mysterious arrival has Rosie worried about the promotion she is angling for and has the rest of the female staff falling over themselves to laugh at his jokes. All the characters are charming and quirky in their own way. Some you'll love. Some you'll hate. Ms. Browne's sense of humor comes out often in the her characters' snappy banter and situational comedy. The wedding mishaps are quite humorous, and I found myself laughing out loud on several occasions. Honeymoon Hotel, along with Ms. Browne's previous novels, has just the right balance of romance, humor, angst and mayhem. If you haven't discovered her yet, give Hester Browne's Honeymoon Hotel a read; I'm sure you'll be hooked by this sassy, fun book.
I think this book ranks as a guilty pleasure; it is everything you should dislike about a book, full of cliches and tried and tested tropes but in Hester Browne's hands they feel fresh, new and invented just for this book. The setting itself, The Bonneville Hotel, is exquisite and you can almost smell the beeswax and lavender polish that I am pretty sure they use to buff up the banister of the sweeping staircase - oh, how I want to visit! You would think that constant references to "Hollywood Glamour" and of the building as being a "Grand Old Lady" would irk, but somehow they don't, they just help you inhabit this fictitious setting and make you understand just why Rosie is so devoted to the place. Strange really, I think I loved the hotel more than the people the tale purports to be about. The characters are realistic and full of personal quirks and foibles that help you to understand them as living and breathing people not just words on the page. I think we all know a hypochondriac like Laurence (if you don't - newsflash - it's you), we understand Joe's reluctance to take on the family heritage and Rosie's sheer dedication to perfection for their events. I didn't really like Rosie as a person, and found myself agreeing with Joe early in the book that she was far too controlling and that her approach to Wedding's in particular was formulaic and didn't allow for individuality. Even though she annoyed me I did warm to her, a bit like a work colleague that drives you up the wall but you know they are ultimately harmless but they just don't really get "it". The plot of the story is Rosie getting out of a dull relationship and falling in love with a capital L and has plenty of pratfalls along the way. To be honest that did little for me but the day to day events in her chaotic personal and professional lives is told with such verve you do get sucked in. Whilst not laugh out loud funny there is a warm, dry wit here that really does entertain and keep you reading. For once I can see how a book would translate to the screen and this would make a really good chick flick for date night - enough goofiness for the blokes and just enough romance for a starry-eyed girl to enjoy (definitely think early Sandra Bullock). A couple of times I did find myself thinking "just one more chapter" so you know it can't be all bad. There was also a lot of sighing when I had to stop reading to go to work so it is definitely immersive and I can honestly state is is an awful lot of fun.
A Book Club recommendation. This is a easy read if you have a free week end. I enjoyed the book and am lending it to a friend
I wrap my hands atound u i hold u close to me