!!> Reading ➵ The Paragon Hotel ➭ Author Lyndsay Faye – 1sm.info
The Paragon Hotel by Lyndsay Faye is a 2019 G.P Putnam s Sons publication Immersive, multi layered historical thriller It s 1921 and Alice James leaves Harlem, running from a drug and alcohol deal that left her seriously wounded She s on a cross country train and fading fast, when Max, a kindly black Pullman Porter, rescues her, taking her to the Paragon Hotel in Portland, which probably saved her life Alice awakens to find herself ensconced in an all black hotel, where the staff and other guests are skittish about harboring a white woman while she recovers her health As Alice Nobody James settles into the hotel, she comes up with a cover story to explain her presence to local authorities, and begins to get to know Max, her doctor Dr Pendleton, and the other residents of the hotel, which includes Mavereen, and Blossom Fontaine, an alluring songstress, and an adorable Mullato boy named Davy Lee But, as time passes, the KKK becomes an increasing dark presence, and Alice begins to understand why the residents live in fear When Davy goes missing, Alice rises to the occasion, putting herself on the line to help find him Meanwhile, we learn about Alice s shady past a little at a time, in alternate chapters, as she discovers secrets of the Paragon Hotel I had a feeling I was going to love this book On one hand, it is a pure crime drama, with plenty of grit, but on the other hand, it is a stylish, atmospheric story, richly layered, poignant, occasionally humorous, and deeply absorbing Alice s family was hardly nurturing, and her escape from Harlem is not one I mourned Yet, her special ability to go unnoticed serves her well as she peels back layers of secrets and outsmarts crooked cops, all while trying to keeping her past hidden In the process, Alice finds a new home, a new family, a place she belongs, and a new purpose This is such a well written story, very engrossing, and smart There was so much to contemplate and think about This story will stay with me for a long time to come This is another outstanding novel by Lyndsay Faye Her ability to weave a great story, with unforgettable characters, and create a pitch perfect atmosphere is nothing short of stunning 5 stars The Paragon Hotel by Lyndsay Faye is wonderful storytelling, showcased by a unique writing style Faye s luminescent prose and memorable characters along with a poignant plot and atmospheric setting create an indelible reading experience Alice James is born on March 23, 1896, on the very same day that the Raines Law is passed That law states that no liquor can be sold on Sunday, except in hotels Alice James, also known as Nobody was born and raised in Raines Hotels in New York Gunshot, Alice makes her way across the country, befriended, finally, by a black porter, Max, on the Pullman train Upon arrival in Portland, Oregon, Max delivers Alice to the Paragon Hotel, a hotel for blacks, where she finds treatment for her bullet wounds and safety for a time How long will she remain safe Blacks are not welcome in Oregon and the Ku Klux Klan is a force to be reckoned with I had never considered that blacks would be met with such prejudice in a northern state, but Faye documents this ignorant and chilling bias with newspaper snippets from the time period Some examples of Faye s prose I think many a trouble begins with love, and it s important to remember that when life feels like the shit scraped off Death s boot sole If Max were any other fellow, I d be terrified enough to dangle out the window like a set of drying stockings by now both of us finishing our cigarettes while the sky turns vacant and black as any corpse We go through our lives, so many of us, as fractions of ourselves, with all the other puzzle pieces buried where no one can see them But there s the paradox, and do forgive me for flights metaphorical we re all of us fractured jigsaws, but we re also the entire picture no matter how far away we walk from what s hidden Faye writes memorable characters, intertwining their physical descriptions with traits of personality He wasn t stronger either but he was quick as a wasp He wasn t handsome but he owned a striking hatchet face, a straight black hairline without a trace of peak, and a pair of weirdly slanting brows hitching a tent over his stake of a nose And he was savagely dynamic In a few sentences, Faye creates dimension in this character I not only see him, but I see his energy and because she uses the word, savage, I imagine that he s scrappy, a survivor She treats all her characters this thoroughly The way she physically describes characters is full fleshed and reveals some of their spirit The dialogue with which Faye infuses her characters feels lively and true to the times She uses a lot of 1910s and 20s slang jake, sap, pal, moll, and it is so unforced as to feel as though she s channeling these characters Alice James, our protagonist, age 25, has lived since age 15, under the protection of her guardian, Mauro Salvatici, a mobster type who runs a grand hotel in New York James is savvy to the ways of the world even though she s gunshot, she comes across as full of herself Alice has learned to play roles in order to get along in life She has become proficient at putting on masks Max sees through her as does her jazz singer friend, Blossom She isn t able to hide behind her mask they don t allow her to go unnoticed become Nobody or to become someone else They want to know the real Alice Alice seems to be in search of her hidden self as well The search for one s identity is a predominant theme also echoed in the character of Blossom I love Blossom The tone of this novel is gutsy with some defiance in the face of challenging odds. Find all of my reviews at know what comment I hear a lot from strangers You should use.gifs in your reviews They are awesome and definitely show what an intelligent person you are Okay, y all know that s totally untrue, but I m still pretty much going to only use.gifs to explain this book because I m wording even less well than usual today.I had never even heard of The Paragon Hotel until my friend SUSAN used the GR recommend feature to tell me about it and because SUSAN never bookpushes like EVER despite us having very similar tastes, I decided I should listen to her and immediately put myself on the library wait list.Okay, let s get on with the.giffery Our story here is about Alice a k a Nobody and takes place in 1921 Born and bred in Harlem to a literal whore mother, Alice was quite the Due to some unfortunate circumstances Alice finds herself on a train bound for a destination as far as she can possibly get from Harlem Much like Blanche DuBois, Alice must rely on the kindness of a stranger and ends up at the Paragon HotelThe Paragon opened in nineteen oh six, and is full to bursting of decent citizens and lunatic nomadsLike my new girlfriend And also happens to dabble a bit in Unfortunately for the all black residents, their fine city has not yet embraced the moniker In fact, it s quite the opposite where it is actually on the books as illegal for any person of color to reside in their fair city at all, leading to a rise in Oh, and there s also a missing kid, but seriously with all that other stuff going on who the eff even cares about him, right If you re an idiot like me and tell yourself things like but I don t really liiiiiiike historical fiction first let me tell you that your brain is probably lying because A LOT of stuff falls into that category , this one might be the exception Same goes for those of you who aren t fans of dialogue driven story progression If the dialogue is as sharply written as it is here, you won t be able to imagine it any other way.All the Stars. My Ratings 3.5 out of 5 starsGenre Historical Fiction MysteryPublisher PENGUIN GROUP PutmamPub Date January 8, 2019In a nutshell, this novel is about racism and the American underworld in the early twentieth century The novel begins in 1921, during the time of America s Prohibition A young white female protagonist is on a train out of Harlem running to escape her Mafia boss who is displeased with her She is suffering from an untreated bullet wound A black male Pullman porter takes pity on her and brings her with him to his home in Portland, Oregon, which happens to be in an all black hotel The story goes back and forth in chapters and settings from NYC to Oregon This is a difficult review to write since I had different opinions throughout the novel on whether I did or did not like the book I appreciate that the alternating settings begin with a real quote from each area s non fictional newspapers Plus, the author has historical endnotes Good research is always a plus in historical fiction I liked that the author chose that the scrappy little kid character, who grows up to be a mobster, is a girl rather than a boy This is unheard of in most mob stories I got a kick out of learning that at one time Harlem NY had a large Italian population know as Little Italy As a native New Yorker, I really should have known this For me, Little Italy is the infamous neighborhood located in the Lower East Side of Manhattan I used to push my, now grown, baby in a stroller right there on Mulberry St And I thoroughly enjoyed how skillful the author is in immersing the reader in the feel of the era I was hooked on the visuals and the slang of the times I was expecting Bogey or Cagney to materialize on any given page Then the historical fiction morphs into a mystery Although it is a well written mystery, it is not needed to enhance the already interesting tale on the happenings of the young woman s two lives One in white America and another in black America Both are filled with police that are as corrupt as the mobsters Nor was I wild about a couple of twists that seem thrown in for good measure They are decent twists, but again, not needed Maybe I just don t care for the mixing of genres I also was not pleased that in this book, and recent others is that the theme and characters are pointedly aligned to this current dysfunctional White House administration I am growing weary of all the new historical novels that make anti Trump statements without using his name And, I am no fan of the 45th American President In this tale, I read over and over how in the 1920s the KKK expanded into the north because of the hatred against people who deemed not truly American Their motto was America First Sound familiar I am aware that these historical connections need to be repeated in words to serve as reminders of what can happen when politics run amok But, after finding this Trump metaphor linking trend so often I, as a reader and a reviewer, need a breather from political teachable moments in my fiction After writing down my thoughts on the pros and cons in The Paragon Hotel, I discover I am still confused on whether I would recommend the book or not I guess it depends upon what your expectations are when venturing into the story I was not expecting a mystery Hopefully my confusion will help give you a clear picture of what you may like or dislike in the story I received this Advance Review Copy ARC novel from the publisher at no cost in exchange for an honest review.Find all my book reviews at DNF Everyone else seems to love this book, so I don t know, maybe I just wasn t in the right mood But I gave up the writing style was a bit overdone for me, the dialogue didn t feel real, and I just couldn t work up any interest in the main character or what happened to her I received a free ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The Paragon Hotel is a fictionalized account of the one hotel in Portland that allowed customers of color through the 1930s, and the surrounding racism of the times I grew up in Oregon with 4th and 8th grade focused on Oregon history but we never learned about this, however it explains a lot Even today Portland is 72% white I enjoyed the part of the novel set in Portland, but the parallel story set in Harlem seemed less realistic and maybe unnecessary, somewhat clogging the storyline This is a good read for people who like the flapper jazz era but are looking for a spin on the usual I had an eARC from the publisher through NetGalley, and the book came out January 8, 2019. Who is Alice James Why does she reference herself as Nobody What are the circumstances that led to her being on a train bound for Oregon So begins the tale of Alice James, aka Nobody , fleeing NYC with a bullet wound festering, on the run from the Mafia It s 1921, Prohibition has been initiated, Mob violence in Little Italy is rampant and Oregon seems to be a safe distance from those who wish Alice dead Befriended on the train by Max Burton, the Pullman porter in charge of her cabin, Alice is taken to the Paragon Hotel, an all black hotel in Portland Alice is white, but in desperate need of Dr Pendleton, owner of the hotel, and an accomplished doctor Alice soon comes to learn of the intolerance Oregon has for African Americans, and the rising influence of the KKK When a young mulatto boy goes missing, Alice feels compelled to help her newfound friends find the child, leading to disastrous consequences.There were so many layers to this story that made it truly engrossing It delves into racism, bigotry, violence and mental illness, yet also highlighting friendship and love A couple of my favorite quotes We go through our lives, so many of us, as fractions of ourselves, with all the other puzzle pieces buried where no one can see them But there s the paradox, and do forgive me for flights metaphorical we re all of us fractured jigsaws, but we re also the entire picture no matter how far away we walk from what s hidden When I ve pushed the spinning glass round and the Paragon Hotel spits me out, I turn to look back at it It s dozens of windows with its hundreds of guests, all of them hiding something All of them fighting for something All of them frightened of something That s the kicker about hotels they aren t homes, they re like the paragon of waiting rooms Unless you re part of the inner circle of this one, and you burrow underneath one another s surfaces, air the cupboards, lift the drapes, and everyone is unhappy, and everyone is both cruel and kind. It s the 1920s, and Alice James, or Nobody, is escaping to Portland when we first meet her, suffering from a bullet wound She s taken by a porter to the Paragon Hotel, the only hotel in the town that allows African Americans to frequent She meets a variety of fascinating people who live and work at the hotel They view her with some suspicion, as she s white and a stranger, and the situation in Portland is somewhat tense, what with the Ku Klux Klan arriving there to cause trouble With the disappearance of a young boy, the adopted son of a flamboyant night club singer, Blossom, tensions rise further, and the inhabitants of the Paragon, along with Nobody, begin a desperate search.I loved this This book was phenomenal Lyndsay Faye provides us with historical context for Portland and Prohibition She also has Nobody narrate this tale, explaining what her childhood and recent past in Harlem, New York City, was like as a gun moll and her less than ethical past, while she contends with the incidents at the Paragon.Nobody s a fabulous character, as is Blossom, whom I fell in love with The two of them connected immediately, as I did with this book through Nobody s voice Which is peppered with nifty turns of phrase that sounded authentically 1920s The phrases added lovely colour to Nobody and her approach to life Lyndsay Faye s characterization of all the other characters was terrific and there were numerous chunks of this book that I would have highlighted for the wonderful language, and that the superlative narrator of this audiobook, January LaVoye, brought vividly to life All I really have to add is, this was one of my favourite books this month. A Gun Moll With A Knack For Disappearing Flees From Prohibition Era Harlem To Portland S Paragon HotelThe Year Is , And Nobody Alice James Has Just Arrived In Oregon With A Bullet Wound, A Lifetime S Experience Battling The New York Mafia, And Fifty Thousand Dollars In Illicit Cash She Befriends Max, A Black Pullman Porter Who Reminds Her Achingly Of Home And Who Saves Alice By Leading Her To The Paragon Hotel But Her Unlikely Sanctuary Turns Out To Be An All Black Hotel In A Jim Crow City, And Its Lodgers Seem Unduly Terrified Of A White Woman On The PremisesAs She Meets The Churlish Dr Pendleton, The Stately Mavereen, And The Club Chanteuse Blossom Fontaine, She Understands Their Dread The Ku Klux Klan Has Arrived In Portland In Fearful Numbers Burning Crosses, Electing Officials, Infiltrating Newspapers, And Brutalizing Blacks And Only Alice And Her New Paragon Family Are Searching For A Missing Mulatto Child Who Has Mysteriously Vanished Into The Woods To Untangle The Web Of Lies And Misdeeds Around Her, Alice Will Have To Answer For Her Own Past, TooA Richly Imagined Novel Starring Two Indomitable Heroines, The Paragon Hotel At Once Plumbs The Darkest Parts Of America S Past And The Most Redemptive Facets Of Humanity From International Bestselling, Multi Award Nominated Writer Lyndsay Faye, It S A Masterwork Of Historical Suspense 4 StarsWhip smart writing and dialogue Strong female characters Though this takes place in the early 1900 s, the story is as relevant as ever Highly recommended.