FINBAR'S HOTEL by Dermot--Ed. Bolger


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Seven Irish novelists—Joseph O’Connor, Anne Enright, Colm To°b°n, Roddy Doyle, Jennifer Johnston, Hugo Hamilton, and Bolger himself—collaborate, with generally good and at times outstanding results, to tell a tale of a single night in a once-famous, soon-to-be-demolished Dublin hotel. Each of the writers here brings to life a guest who occupies a room on the first floor. Room 101 provides novel entertainment for aging Ben, who’s never before been in a hotel. His walk on the wild side takes him in and out of his room, the bar, the residents’ lounge, and the nightclub, until finally his intervention in a curbside domestic dispute rewards him with a bloody nose. For sisters Rose and Ivy in 102, it’s a rare meeting, requested by matronly Ivy in order to persuade her London-based sibling to come home to see their mother’something Rose has refused to do since leaving home at age 17. Ken walks into 103 with a ghetto-blaster and a plot to get his revenge on the woman who jilted him. The stories from 104 and 105 are easily the most striking: the former involves the hotel manager and the history of Finbar’s, which achieved its success partly through the famous discretion of the founder, the grandfather of the man in 104; the woman in 105 is dying of cancer, but by chance meets an Irish-Jewish tour guide from New York, who gives her the courage to tell her husband and children her sad secret. Peopling other tales are a woman over from America to settle her father’s estate (and her memory of a teenage romance), and a burglar trying to sell a Rembrandt and other paintings that represent the heist of his life. More than a curiosity, but less than a masterwork: a collection that holds together surprisingly well given that each story is ultimately self-contained.

Pub Date: March 17th, 1999
ISBN: 0-15-600633-2
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Harvest/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1999