“My mother killed my father when I was seven years old.” How can you resist a first line like that?
I’m a bit of a fan of Ruth Hogan – remember The Keeper Of Lost Things and The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes? So I was pleased to see this new title from her.
Queenie Malone’s Paradise Hotel is described as a novel of mothers and daughters, families and secrets, and the astonishing power of friendship. And do you know, whoever coined that description got it pretty much on the nose.
But obviously that first line hints at something deeper and darker here, too.
Two Time Frames
This book is written in two parts, but also, throughout, in two time frames. It sounds complicated but really isn’t, as the timeframes are signalled by the headings Tilly, for the past, and Tilda, the present.
Tilly was a bright outgoing little girl who liked playing with ghosts and matches. She loved fizzy drinks, swear words, fish fingers and Catholic churches. But most of all she loved living in Brighton in Queenie Malone’s Paradise Hotel with its endearing and loving family of misfits, both guests and staff.
So imagine her devastation when her mother sent her away to boarding school. No warning, no explanation, just a packed case and wave goodbye.
That was then. Now, Tilly has grown up to become Tilda, and she wants to solve the mystery of why. Why did her beloved mother abandon her like that?
The truth emerges through her reading of her now-deceased mother’s diaries, a poignant insight into a heartbreak she never imagined.
So this becomes a tale of understanding, acceptance, reconciliation, forgiveness. But if that all sounds a bit heavy, don’t be put off because it’s a fun read, too. Ruth Hogan has a different way of looking at things, and a creative style in stringing it all together.
I like reading her books and hope you will, too.
Queenie Malone’s Paradise Hotel by Ruth Hogan is out February 7 in Two Roads hardback.
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