Monday, 8 August 2011

Hotel on the corner of Bitter and sweet

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and SweetHotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a truly delightful read this book is. I was blown away by its charm and depth.

Here's a description from Amazon:

1986, The Panama Hotel The old Seattle landmark has been boarded up for decades, but now the new owner has made a startling discovery in the basement: personal belongings stored away by Japanese families sent to interment camps during the Second World War. Among the fascinated crowd gathering outside the hotel, stands Henry Lee, and, as the owner unfurls a distinctive parasol, he is flooded by memories of his childhood. He wonders if by some miracle, in amongst the boxes of dusty treasures, lies a link to the Okabe family, and the girl he lost his young heart to, so many years ago. With over a million copies sold worldwide, this captivating debut is a story of the sacrifices one boy makes for love and for his country.

My thoughts ... This is a dual time novel set in 1986 and also in 1940s America during are days of prohibition, mistrust and racial tension. The narrator is elderly Henry, looking back on his youth during the second world war. Born of Chinese parents and aged 13 Henry struggles to maintain his racial identity. His best friend is a black sax player until he meets Keiko, but she is Japanese, part of race being persecuted relentlessly by the Americans.

This is a truly sensational historical statement and a beautiful love story peopled by the most well rounded believeable characters - even the secondary characters will stay with me for a long time. There is so much crammed into this lovely book you'd think it would be complicated but its a real page turner and so easy to love I can't recommend it highly enough.

Slightly surprised to discover that the author Jamie Ford is a "Dude" as he calls himself.

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