The Hotel

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  • Paperback
  • 175
  • The Hotel
  • Elizabeth Bowen
  • English
  • 01 April 2019
  • 0140004491

About the Author: Elizabeth Bowen

Paperback õ The Hotel eBook ´ hotel mobile, The HotelThe Hotel PDFElizabeth Dorothea Cole Bowen, CBE was an Anglo Irish novelist and short story writer.


The HotelPaperback õ The Hotel eBook ´ hotel mobile, The HotelThe Hotel PDFBowen s first novel, The Hotel, is a wonderful introduction to her disarming, perceptive style Following a group of British tourists vacationing on the Italian Riviera during the s, The Hotel explores the social and emotional relationships that develop among the well heeled residents of the eponymous establishment When the young Miss Sydney falls under the sway of an older woman, Mrs Kerr, a sapphic affair simmers right below the surface of Bowen s writing, creating a rich story that often relies as much on what is left unsaid as what is written on the page Bowen depicts an intense interpersonal drama with wit and suspense, while playing with and pushing the English language to its boundaries.

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10 thoughts on “The Hotel

  1. Fionnuala says:

    A Room with a View was very much in my mind as I read this early work of Elizabeth Bowen s Like E M Forster s famous story, this one describes the affairs of a group of English tourists staying in a hotel in Italy where some have rooms with views while others have to be content without As in Forster s scenario, Bowen s 1920s English visitors are very class conscious so there is a lot of emphasis on the position in society of each of the hotel guests and the privileges that go with higher statu A Room with a View was very much in my mind as I read this early work of Elizabeth Bowen s Like E M Forster s famous story, this one describes the affairs of a group of English tourists staying in a hotel in Italy where some have rooms with views while others have to be content without As in Forster s scenario, Bowen s 1920s English visitors are very class conscious so there is a lot of emphasis on the position in society of each of the hotel guests and the privileges that go with higher status These scenes are quite funny, and it is clear that Bowen found them funny too She also points out, as Forster did, how intolerant her characters are of anyone who is not English the Italians are deplored by the characters for their laziness and lack of organization Afternoon tea followed by a game of tennis remains the highlight of everyone s day and it would be easy to forget that these people are not still in England except for Bowen s frequent mentions of the weather and the scenery.But there were other reasons why I thought of EM Forster When I finished his Room with a View, I read a shorter piece of his, The Story of a Panic It is also set in Italy and concerns yet another group of English tourists who go on an outing in the mountains with a local driver and are overtaken by an electric storm The charged atmosphere on the mountain proves very unsettling for one of the characters which then has repercussions for the others A similar situation happens in Bowen s story The characters find themselves on a steep mountain road when a mist descends and driving becomes dangerous even for their experienced local driver One of the characters has a moment of panic which eventually influences the lives of the others And now that I think of it, E M Forster uses a similar scenario in A Passage to India The English characters go on a trip to the mountains with a local man and the strange atmosphere causes one of the characters a moment of great panic that changes everyone s lives And while I m on the track of English characters abroad, there s also Virginia Woolf s The Voyage Out in which there s a climactic trip away from the securities of South American hotel life and up into the mountains And of course Rowland Mallet from Henry James Roderick Hudson has his own moment of panic on a Swiss mountain He s American of course, but he is one of the most English seeming of HJ s characters.The similarities in plot got me wondering about the intention behind all these stories I concluded that this bunch of authors seem determined to pit their insular and finally rather puny characters against the powerful atmosphere and elements of the foreign country And the foreign country always wins

  2. BrokenTune says:

    1.5 Blergh She did not want to go down to the courts again she knew that if Mrs Kerr sat on here, watching her meditatively, her play would all go to pieces I have heard so much of your service Today I am really going to watch it This is one of my off days Dear Sydney, whenever I come you tell me it s one of your off days Mrs Kerr laughed I m unlucky Oh, do you notice that From the moment you come here I never hit anything What on earth do you mean, my dear Sydney How terrib 1.5 Blergh She did not want to go down to the courts again she knew that if Mrs Kerr sat on here, watching her meditatively, her play would all go to pieces I have heard so much of your service Today I am really going to watch it This is one of my off days Dear Sydney, whenever I come you tell me it s one of your off days Mrs Kerr laughed I m unlucky Oh, do you notice that From the moment you come here I never hit anything What on earth do you mean, my dear Sydney How terribly sinister It had never occurred to me that my eye might be evil I meant something muchprosaic that I happen to miss things Well, I somewhat sympathise with Mrs Kerr I, too, miss things, and one of things I have missed was the point of this book I have heard so much praise of Bowen s work that reading her first novel was a huge let down I first read about the The Hotel in connection with the censorship of Radclyffe Hall s The Well of Loneliness When reading up on the history of the trial and the ban of the book in the UK, some of the sources cite other books published in 1928 which also are attributed with a lesbian theme Anyway, one of the articles referred to The Hotel not being considered for censorship because it was too reticent Reticent, indeed I had no expectations or indeed any particular wish to read about any romantic entanglements between the main characters, but I did expect the book to have story or a point but it seems that even these eluded me The Hotel is about a group of English tourists mostly women who holiday in a hotel in Italy There is a group of older women, a few younger ones and the two main characters Mrs Kerr and Sydney The tourists basically provide the soundboard of conventional upper middle class society against which Mrs Kerr and Sydney develop their friendship, though Mrs Kerr is characterised so ambiguously that it is difficult to say whether she is one of the old conventionals or not Anyway, so during the holiday, Sydney meets Mrs Kerr and the two become friends and somewhat abstain from mingling with the rest of the guests Their friendship is somewhat disrupted, however, when Mrs Kerr s son arrives at the hotel and one of the other guests, a clergyman, falls in love with Sydney and proposes to her She refuses, then accepts, then breaks it off Then guest start to depart Really, there is not much of a story What wasaggravating than the non story was the writing Yes, there were some great paragraphs, one my favourites beingOn still spring nights the thud of a falling lemon would be enough to awake one in terror However, they were so few embedded in so much pretentious drivel that just would not come to any pointThere are situations in life, said Mrs Pinkerton, face to face with which one is powerless Though she only meant that in the struggle for life one is sorely handicapped by the obligations of nobility. The only character that made me finish the book was Sydney, who is a straight forward sensible characterDoesn t it rain I like it she was moved to exclaim If I were Monet and alive now, I would paint this and present the picture to the P.L.M as a poster for the C te d Azur She smiled out at the rain with an air of complicity

  3. Proustitute says:

    An hotel, you know, is a great place for friendships Mustn t that be, said Ronald, what people come out for Perhaps some But are there really people who would do that asked Ronald sharply, in a tone of revulsion, as though he had brought himself upsquarely than he had anticipated to the edge of some kind of abyss You mean women Yes, I suppose so, said MiltonThe Hotel is Elizabeth Bowen s first novel, published in 1927, the same year that Virginia Woolf published To tAn hotel, you know, is a great place for friendships Mustn t that be, said Ronald, what people come out for Perhaps some But are there really people who would do that asked Ronald sharply, in a tone of revulsion, as though he had brought himself upsquarely than he had anticipated to the edge of some kind of abyss You mean women Yes, I suppose so, said MiltonThe Hotel is Elizabeth Bowen s first novel, published in 1927, the same year that Virginia Woolf published To the Lighthouse While the two books concerns are rather different Woolf is concerned with family life and its changes and various estrangements in a new era, while Bowen is concerned with Brits abroad in the Italian Riviera while their world at home is falling apart they way they approach things is eerily similar Both have a New Woman figure at their center Lily Briscoe in Lighthouse and Sydney Warren in The Hotel both of these women express admiration for older women of the previous generation in covert homoerotic tones, while also being adamant in their desires to break free from the constraints of the older, pre War world that was still so steeped in Victorian norms Maud Ellmann says that as a first novel The Hotel is astonishing And it is the social banter of The Last September is here, coupled with a melancholy for a world that will soon collapse into an ineffable unknown the deep interiority and psychological explorations in other novels like The Death of the Heart and The Heat of the Day and the playfulness mixed with droll seriousness that one finds scattered in the best of Bowen s short stories Truly a 5 star book, had this been written by anyone other than Bowen, the weaknesses are perhaps overlooked easily given this is her first novel however, it s hard to believe that this is a first novel at all, given what control Bowen has here, and how far ranging her insights A novel about women s friendships and alliances while in solitude or in the enforced company of men, The Hotel dips into gender politicsdeeply than To the Lighthouse does, but, as a first novel, it lacks the emotive symbolism and skilled technique that Woolf employs indeed, at times, Bowen s fictional hotel is so far removed from Britain and the action that s taking place there, that one can t help but feel that the characters exist in a bubble and that there is nothing whatever going on in the world at large unless, of course, this was her intent Bowen said that she liked the idea of a hotel as a place to cage her characters, to force them into interactions with each other, to set the stage for different social classes to engage with each other, and to elicit quiet scenes of drama, passion, repression, and even rebellion that might not otherwise have occurred The scenery of the Riviera is evoked exceedingly well, and this book is perhaps an excellent primer for those who find later Bowen to be often tediously difficult, with her deep interior plumbing of characters and her often idiosyncratic and disarming way of phrasing sentences that causes the reader to question events just as much as her characters do While The Hotel seems to oweto Woolf than to James, Bowen s later work is a true synthesis of her own style that shows her debt to both literary figures, but isJamesian in its scope and concentration.This new edition, published by University of Chicago Press who also reprinted Bowen s third novel, Friends and Relations is a beautiful edition indeed Ellmann s introduction situations The Hotel within Bowen s oeuvre and there really is no better critic today writing on Bowen s singular work

  4. Cecily says:

    Sometimes described as a 1920s Jane Austen bit of a stretch , but I seelikeness to Anita Brookner Relatively light, character rather than plot driven, but some intriguing and well observed social insights and very unexpected metaphors One or two grating phrases, but farbrilliant ones Upper middle class Brits staying in a Mediterranean hotel A little confusing at first when you encounter Mrs X and Jane, but don t immediately realise or remember that they are one and the same.

  5. Lobstergirl says:

    Bowen s first novel is so evocative of other writers E M Forster came first to mind, given the setting of upper class English vacationers in an Italian pensione A Room with a View and a fraught situation in which a car perches dangerously on a curvy mountain road something similar happens in Where Angels Fear to Tread and one of its occupants hopes it will go over the cliff There are also hints of Henry James, and Virginia Woolf The Voyage Out.Bowen brilliantly captures a certain type Bowen s first novel is so evocative of other writers E M Forster came first to mind, given the setting of upper class English vacationers in an Italian pensione A Room with a View and a fraught situation in which a car perches dangerously on a curvy mountain road something similar happens in Where Angels Fear to Tread and one of its occupants hopes it will go over the cliff There are also hints of Henry James, and Virginia Woolf The Voyage Out.Bowen brilliantly captures a certain type of middle aged married man who loves to be among pretty young girls The departure, always a fidgety piece of organization, had gone off magnificently with never a hitch, and he looked with satisfaction at the five girls with their short skirts and neat ankles walking in front of him No one could have been less of a horrid old satyr than Mr Lee Mittison, but he loved to surround himself with bright faces, and the faces of young women are admittedly the brightest.He knew himself to be a success with young people he could spin yarns and imitate animals by the hour, and tell graphically of life in the East, bearing his descriptions out with photograph albums He found that he need never want for young society girls seemed to take to him naturally He did not care for young married women, while widows depressed him poor little souls While Colonel Duperrier s wife is off being miserable somewhere, he hangs out in the hotel lobby with the Lawrence daughters He drew up a chair and sat not far away from her while she scribbled experimentally with the new pen It gave him a restful, anchored feeling to sit beside somebody who was doing something He looked at the back of Joan s neck, from which the cropped hair fell away, with uncovetous appreciation What he believed himself to be feeling was that it would have been jolly to have had a daughter If Colonel Duperrier s wife were to die, he would marry some girl of twenty three who would be very much in love with him and with whom he would be very happy Colonel Duperrier had never thought of this, but it was evident to any woman.Not just a daughter The declining sun made the girls arms and faces coral pink and their dresses gold Colonel Duperrier regrettedthan ever that he had no nieces.It s not only the men whose minds are wandering Mrs Lee Mittison, who was not otherwise immodest, often married herself imaginatively to men she took an interest in, then reviewed the possibilities of such a union I would do something for his hair at the back, she thought I am certain that is accidental baldness, not hereditary I m going to let the novel sit for a bit and then reread it in order to better absorb the subtleties of the sapphic friendship simmering between Sydney Warren and Mrs Kerr

  6. JacquiWine says:

    Back in April 2016 I read Elizabeth Bowen s The Death of the Heart, a brilliant book that made my end of year highlights First published in 1927, The Hotel was Bowen s first novel It s a striking debut, a story of unsuitable attachments and the subtle dynamics at play among the members of a very privileged set, all cast against the backdrop of the Italian Riviera in the 1920s.In many ways, the novel revolves around Sydney Warren, a somewhat remote yet spirited young woman in her early twenties Back in April 2016 I read Elizabeth Bowen s The Death of the Heart, a brilliant book that made my end of year highlights First published in 1927, The Hotel was Bowen s first novel It s a striking debut, a story of unsuitable attachments and the subtle dynamics at play among the members of a very privileged set, all cast against the backdrop of the Italian Riviera in the 1920s.In many ways, the novel revolves around Sydney Warren, a somewhat remote yet spirited young woman in her early twenties Sydney has come to the hotel to accompany her older cousin, Tessa Bellamy, who in turn is trying to deal with a gastric condition Sydney s family are delighted that she has travelled to Italy with Tessa, viewing it is an inspired solution of the Sydney problem , in their eyes something to counterbalance the girl s leaning towards the neurotic and her tendency to be so unfortunate in her choice of friends For her part, Sydney has developed a rather unhealthy attachment to another resident, Mrs Kerr, an intriguing, self assured woman in her forties While Mrs Kerr is a widow, she appears to actlike a divorcee at least that s the opinion of several of the other guests at the hotel who seem enjoy speculating about Mrs Kerr and the nature of her relationship with Sydney I love this next quote, a passage of dialogue so indicative of Bowen s penetrating tone In this scene, Tessa is in conversation with several other ladies in the hotel drawing room.Tessa continued Sydney is very affectionate She is very much absorbed, isn t she, by Mrs Kerr I have known other cases, said somebody else, looking about vaguely for her scissors, of these very violent friendships One didn t feel those others were quite healthy I should discourage any daughter of mine from a friendship with an older woman It is never the best women who have these strong influences I would far rather she lost her head about a man Sydney hasn t lost her head, said little Tessa with dignity Oh but, Mrs Bellamy I was talking about other cases p 62 And so the discussion continues in a similar vein.Other notable guests at the hotel include Mr and Mrs Lee Mittison, the Ammerings and their son Victor and the Lawrence girls, Veronica, Eileen and Joan Mr Lee Mittison is determined to surround himself with the beautiful, refined young people, and there are some classic scenes involving a picnic he attempts to orchestrate with mixed results While the Lee Mittisons are very happy for Sydney and the Lawrence sisters to attend, they are none too pleased when Victor Ammering shows up on the scene, much to Veronica Lawrence s amusement when she goes off with the young man For her part, Mrs L M, a devoted wife, will do anything she can to ensure her husband s social events are a success It s all quite amusing to observe.Also staying at the hotel are Miss Pym and Miss Fitzgerald, genteel elderly ladies very much of the type depicted in Fawlty Towers, and two sisters in law, the Honourable Mrs and Miss Pinkerton, who have paid extra to have exclusive use of the bathroom opposite their rooms When middle aged clergyman James Milton arrives at the hotel following a long train journey across the continent, unaware of the bathroom arrangements he goes for a long soak in the Pinkertons bath, much to the consternation of the ladies on his floor.James Milton s appearance on the scene shakes things up a little inways than one In the hope of attracting Sydney, he rushes out a terribly ill judged proposal of marriage to her during a walk in the countryside there is a sense that he is comfortable operating within his own relatively small circle of society, but much less so in this wider sphere Sydney declines, giving James the impression that there is no point in his holding out any hope of a change in heart but then the situation changes once again with another arrival, that of Ronald, Mrs Kerr s twenty year old son Before long, Sydney realises that Mrs Kerr has given her the brush off in favour of Ronald, a fact that becomes painfully clear to her during a conversation with Veronica Lawrence Once again, Bowen demonstrates great insight and precision in painting this scene here s a brief extract from the extended discussion between these two girls Well, she has so absolutely given you the go by, hasn t she said Veronica, replacing the alabaster lid of the powder bowl, then looking down to blow some powder off her dress It was Sydney this and Sydney darling that and Where s Sydney and Sydney and I are going together, and now he s come she simply doesn t see you Sydney, after an interval, leant sideways to push the window farther open She seemed to have forgotten Veronica, who energetically continued Of course I m sorry for you Everybody s sorry for you Oh, said Sydney Do you mind the way she s going on asked Veronica curiously It hadn t occurred to me that there was anything to mind, said Sydney with a high pitched little laugh and a sensation of pushing off something that was coming down on her like the ceiling in one of her dreams It seemed incredible that the words Veronica had just made use of should ever have been spoken p 117 In a rebound response to being sidelined by Mrs Kerr, Sydney agrees to marry James Milton, a development also prompted, at least to a certain extent, by Veronica s attitude towards marriage In many ways, Veronica sees marriage to a man as an inevitable outcome for a woman in her position so if she has to marry someone it may as well be Victor Ammering, to whom she has just become engaged.To read the rest of my review, please click here

  7. Debbie Robson says:

    It s amazing when you read The Hotel to think this is a first novel How was she so accomplished How did she achieve, as Peter Ackroyd asks, the munificence of detail, the fine closeness of the atmosphere which she creates I won t disagree but will put forward that with all the astonishing skill she obviously displays in The Hotel, I did find some paragraphs almost impenetrable Yes you can get to the bottom of what she means but they were a little exhausting and made for a very slow reading It s amazing when you read The Hotel to think this is a first novel How was she so accomplished How did she achieve, as Peter Ackroyd asks, the munificence of detail, the fine closeness of the atmosphere which she creates I won t disagree but will put forward that with all the astonishing skill she obviously displays in The Hotel, I did find some paragraphs almost impenetrable Yes you can get to the bottom of what she means but they were a little exhausting and made for a very slow reading of the book James Milton s attempt to come farther into her life, to regions by his acquaintance of them surely sufficiently ice bound, appeared in the light of present considerations heroic he had been staking his future But his future, she recollected, spun itself off into infinity He did not acknowledge finality anywhere this made him leisurely seeming and easily generous His impulses in any direction were not intensified by her own sense of urgency In the light shed serenely down from that ultimate spaciousness he was covering life at an equable space He presented himself an undriven, a comforting figure She saw him conducting a funeral voluminous, fluttering, milk white, leaning like one of these angels over the yawn of a grave to scatter his handful of earth, his tribute to mortality with the expression, a submerged beam, of this having in a cognizant Mind its order The word death used in his presence would have a slow dying ring to it, to which one would be able to feel him subconsciously listening She contemplated with a faint inclination a life shared with someone for whom it would have this overtone of significance Phew Glad that s over You can see why it took me quite a while to read this book On the other hand you have paragraphs like this one It was another of those idyllic evenings, agonisingly meaningless the evening air brought out the scent of lemons The Lawrences, shrugging up their wraps round their shoulders, slid forward in their chairs luxuriously and sank down into themselves like cat into their fur Thin blue smoke drifted away through the clearness And you see that s why I am glad I read The Hotel for paragraphs such as this one Recommended but not for the fainthearted

  8. Lady Drinkwell says:

    At the beginning I couldnt quite work out what this book was really about It was like Enchanted April without the enchantment and Room with a View with lots of Rooms in the Hotel and views of Italy but no passion However about half way through I became absolutely intrigued by this novel and by Sydney, the complicated central character There are lots of interesting reflections on time, on seizing the day and the sorts of relationship that can help us get through life, all taking place in the I At the beginning I couldnt quite work out what this book was really about It was like Enchanted April without the enchantment and Room with a View with lots of Rooms in the Hotel and views of Italy but no passion However about half way through I became absolutely intrigued by this novel and by Sydney, the complicated central character There are lots of interesting reflections on time, on seizing the day and the sorts of relationship that can help us get through life, all taking place in the Italian countryside Strangely there is almost no mention of any Italians It all feels a little unreal, these little Englanders put together in a hotel for the holiday and hardly venturing out Its a strange book, with quite a few relationships and things that are never fully explained, and the writing is very dense at times but beautiful I found There is one scene in a river valley which is completely stuck in my head and haunting me It was altogether very enjoyable and to my taste

  9. Karin says:

    My, my, but a rather disappointing read There was one scene I found rather amusing, but on the whole, nothing really happens, it s hard to like any of the characters and if this is what it was like to be a wealthy British citizen in the late 1920s, post Great War, then I for one am glad I wasn t part of it Now Bowen must be able to write better, since her Collected Stories is on the Bloom s Canon, but it s not likely I will be reading that after this experience.I can see why I wasn t able to g My, my, but a rather disappointing read There was one scene I found rather amusing, but on the whole, nothing really happens, it s hard to like any of the characters and if this is what it was like to be a wealthy British citizen in the late 1920s, post Great War, then I for one am glad I wasn t part of it Now Bowen must be able to write better, since her Collected Stories is on the Bloom s Canon, but it s not likely I will be reading that after this experience.I can see why I wasn t able to get it through my library network, and ended up buying a used copy which is a discarded library copy that is in excellent condition, printed in 1972 I bought and finished it for a discussion, and I am quite thrilled that I am finished with this book

  10. Nicholas says:

    I was wanting to love her lesbian Early 20th century Something of a classic But this took me FOREVER to get through I was bored, and yet it was completely up my alley sea resort hotel populated by upper middle class British people Comedy of manners But not so funny or interesting, alas.