Monday, July 17, 2017
The Little Hotel
Some time ago Jonathan Franzen wrote an essay about another Stead novel, The Man Who Loved Children, praising it in the highest possible terms. Whether he was responsible for renewed interest in Stead, an Australian who did most of her writing outside her homeland, I can't say. But we currently have several brand-spanking new copies of her novels, just issued by Text Classics, so I thought I'd give one a try.
Set in a '4th-class hotel' on Lake Geneva in the years just after WWII, The Little Hotel is full of Brits, Americans, Belgians, Swiss, and Italians who have washed up for a variety of reasons, nearly all of them having to do with money and the need to hide it in Switzerland. In between gossiping, fighting, drinking, and insulting the servants, they all plan to leave at any moment, for fear that the Russians will descend and confiscate all of those precious funds. Every page of this is funny, some of it hilariously so, but the undercurrent of pathos is strong. I loved every page.