I love Ruth Hogan’s novels. A lot. They are always full of wonderful, eccentric and brilliantly flawed characters, exploring a wide range of themes such as death, grief, the loss of something or someone, and finding a character finding out who they really are. And now, in February, she will have her third book published, Queenie Malone’s Paradise Hotel. I was so excited and after loving her second novel SO much, I just had to ask for a proof. And my God, it’s perfect. I think it’s her best novel yet.
Of course, as it’s not out until February, I’m not going to reveal any spoilers about the book because there is a lot that needs to be enjoyed when reading it. But I read this in two days straight, I’m writing this review just after finishing the book as I just had to write down my thoughts about this book. So, novel three… what’s it all about? Here’s the blurb:
Tilly was a bright, outgoing little girl who loved 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 magnificent Paradise Hotel with its endearing and loving family of misfits – staff and guests alike.
But Tilly’s childhood was shattered when her mother sent her away from the only home she’d ever loved to boarding school with little explanation and no warning. Now, Tilda has grown into an independent woman still damaged by her mother’s unaccountable cruelty. Wary of people, her only friend is her dog, Eli.
When her mother dies, Tilda goes back to Brighton and with the help of her beloved Queenie sets about unravelling the mystery of her exile from The Paradise Hotel only to discover that her mother was not the woman she thought she knew at all…
Sounds bloody brilliant, doesn’t it? Hogan’s last book, The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes, still stays with me. I loved, loved, loved that book. You can read my review here. But, for me, this book is her best yet. The plot of the novel is layered, interesting and full of mystery that keeps you guessing right until the very end with all of the twists and turns. There were some moments where I literally gasped out loud that I didn’t see something coming.
One of the most notable things in Hogan’s books is the wonderful characters that inhabit the world of the novel. And that’s no exception with this one, at all. Tilda, for me, is a brilliant character and I feel that’s somehow more likeable than Masha in Sally Red Shoes. I just found Tilda more interesting with her story and I was rooting for her more, too. I loved how the book is split into chapters from Tilda in present day to her as a child, Tilly – I thought that was a brilliant and clever move. This way, we see how her childhood literally shaped her life and how that carries the story going forward. But overall, my heart lies with Queenie. Queenie, for me, was brilliantly written and I want to read an entire novel all about her. I guess you could compare her with Sally from Sally Red Shoes – two women being moral support for our main characters, but for me, Queenie was something else completely. I just loved her story and character. At the end, there’s a little twist that brings everything into perspective and I’m still shocked but also very emotional…
The main beating heart of this novel is the relationship between Tilda/Tilly and her mother. This is the main anchor of the novel and is explored in both timelines. I thought this relationship was written beautifully. It was honest, real and heartbreaking. Trust me, you will need to have tissues on standby when reading this book. It’s about the sacrifices one makes for the ones we love and that was a beautiful theme throughout the book.
Another thing that I loved about this novel is that it’s set in Brighton. I’ve only been to Brighton once but I was completely and utterly transfixed by it all. The pier, especially. The setting of Brighton is a character of it’s own and it is a beautiful backdrop for the overall story. I immediately want to go to Brighton again, running to the pier, for fish and chips. Yes, please.
Also, there’s been a lot of death in my family this year and I think it’s kind of fitting that I’m reading this as the year is about to end. Like Daniel says in the book, everything is about love. And that shone throughout this novel.
That’s all I want to say for now because I don’t want to give too much away but I loved, loved, loved this book. Hogan had a beautiful way of creating characters who are real, flawed but wonderful all at the same time. The emotion throughout the book is strong and carries right through to the very end. I think, like Tilly as a child, there is an innocence to the novel and I think that’s something special. It’s my favourite novels of hers and I know it’s one that I’m not going to forget in a hurry. Wonderful, eccentric, emotional but like always, a great amount of fun.
I can’t wait for the next one already. Queenie Malone’s Paradise Hotel is out on the 7th February but you can pre-order now. Perhaps, when it’s published, I’ll give a more in-depth review of the book but it’s safe to say, it’s a cracker. Trip to Brighton, anyone?
A big thank you to Two Roads books for my proof (and the rock) of this wonderful book!
Are you a fan of Ruth Hogan’s books? When you read this book, let me know – I’d love to hear your thoughts!