- Hotel (novel)
Hotel is a 1965 novel by
Arthur Hailey. It is the story of an independent New Orleanshotel, the St. Gregory, to regain profitability and avoid being assimilated into the O'Keefe chain of hotels. The St. Gregory is supposedly based on the former "Roosevelt Hotel,"which was later known as the The Fairmont Hotel New Orleans.
* Peter McDermott, manager
* Warren Trent, proprietor
* Christine Francis, secretary to Warren Trent
* Aloysius Royce, administrative assistant to Warren Trent
* Curtis O'Keefe, owner of the O'Keefe chain
* Dorothy "Dodo" Lash, O'Keefe's starlet companion
* Albert Wells, aging hotel guest
* The Duke and Duchess of Croydon, guests in the Presidential Suite
* Ogilvie, house detective
* Julius "Keycase" Milne, hotel thief
* Herbie Chandler, villainous Bell Captain
The main character is Peter McDermott, the general manager with a "past" who is trying to redeem himself. Although the lead man, he is only the first among equals as he tries to put out several fires at the same time: The Hotel's unpayable (and unrenewable) mortage is due on Friday, necessitating its sale; the Duke and Duchess of Croydon are hiding out in the hotel from their responsibility for a gruesome hit-and-run accident; a hotel thief is operating in the building; a group of teen-aged boys create a major "incident" that is aggravated by the fact that they are the sons of the local banker, car dealer, and other town notables. All of these crises are resolved, some more expeditiously than others, and mostly to Peter's satisfaction, although he has to share the spotlight with the perpetrators and others listed above.
The multiple-plot line of Hotel is handled using an interesting modular format. The story is set over a period of five weekdays, Monday through Friday, featuring several events (and "leading characters") each day. This makes for a somewhat disjointed narrative, whose redeeming features are the inherent interest of most of the subplots, and the fact that "multiple causation" is common in the real world. No "channel-surfing" is necessary because the book does it for you.
Hailey's meticulous research means that he is big on telling details, especially regarding the dark side of the hotel: Meg Yetmein, the cleaning lady, "gets hers back" by smuggling out steaks under her clothing toward the end of her shift; Tom Earlshore, the fired bartender, does much the same by "skimming" liquor. There are other, deeper, darker secrets that aren't fit to reveal to a family audience. But there is a lot of good here as well: A super-conscientious furnace man helps solve the Hotel's most important mystery, and the building's most neglected and long-suffering guest steps forward to the financial rescue of the Hotel.
A very similar book "Chowringhee" was written by the Bengali author Mani Shankar Mukherjee three years back in 1962. It was set in the Chowringhee neighbourhood in Kolkata and became an instant hit. It achieved a cult status and was later made into a film starring
Uttam Kumarand Supriya Devi.
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.