The Hotel New Hampshire
Irving is known for writing big Dickensian novels; this is no exception. Irving pulls in some truly wacky plot elements: circus bears, taxidermy, weightlifting, and a run-down hotel. But at its heart this is the story of a messy, unusual family as they grow up and learn about love and death, success and failure, and (this being a John Irving novel) sex. Irving has a knack for distilling wisdom out of the strangest situations, and this exuberant novel gives him ample opportunity to exercise his talent.
“The first of my father’s illusions was that bears could survive the life lived by human beings, and the second was that human beings could survive a life led in hotels.”
So says John Berry, son of a hapless dreamer, brother to a cadre of eccentric siblings, and chronicler of the lives lived, the loves experienced, the deaths met, and the myriad strange and wonderful times encountered by the family Berry. Hoteliers, pet-bear owners, friends of Freud (the animal trainer and vaudevillian, that is), and playthings of mad fate, they “dream on” in a funny, sad, outrageous, and moving novel by the remarkable author of A Son of the Circus and A Prayer for Owen Meany.