Read The Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving Online


"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 lived 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 ti"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 lived 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 Widow for One Year and The Cider House Rules....

Title : The Hotel New Hampshire
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780671454982
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 450 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Hotel New Hampshire Reviews

  • Ben
    2019-04-03 06:05

    If you haven't read Irving yet, I think you should give him a try. This novel isn't one of his "big three", but it's damn good.First off, most Irving novels have some general characteristics:- They typically have a Dickensian plot, in which you follow the characters through large portions of their lives. The breadth of the novel typically goes through one generational span, but often you'll get (at least) a few beginning chapters detailing the lives of the protagonist's parents or grandparents, as well. - Irving writes of these lives through story telling.- He wants his readers to really get to know his characters. I've never read an Irving novel that didn't have, in my judgment, superb character development. Characters from Irving novels I read years ago still leap out at me; I still feel they are real, and that I know them. I have a love for them.- Irving rarely describes the internalized thoughts and emotions of his characters. Instead he gives the reader insight into their personalities through their reactions, styles, comments, loves, hates, interactions, and all-around preferences. He can do this because his descriptions and stories are very detailed and tend to be true to the universal life experiences we've all had in dealing with, and observing, people. Irving lets these personalities play themselves out, and trusts that the reader will come to understand the inner-core of the character as that character continues to get revealed.- These characters are often wacky... but in a likeable way. They make you laugh. Yet his protagonists are typically men who are easily relatable -- flawed, but likable. Typically the strong hero-esque roles are filled by women with strong personalities -- but not always.- When Irving's host of motley characters interact- ironic, tragic, comical, over-the-top, bizarre things happen. It doesn't seem far-fetched at the time (at least not to an Irving fan), because the characters are still believable, and the events that take place are simply extensions of their quirky personalities. Weird fates usually happen to weird people, right? It'd be weird if that weren't the case, but now we're just playing word games.... - There are a number of common themes that run through his novels: New England, Vienna, bears, prostitution, absent parents, the death of main characters, wrestling, sexual deviances, to name a few...- Irving pushes the boundaries of ridiculousness. The reader needs to have an appreciation for the absurd, and develop a level of trust with the author, because just about anything can happen. Likewise, having a trace of megalomania within, certainly doesn't hurt; especially when, at the end of the novel you find that some characters have become rock stars, famous writers, hollywood actors/actresses, etc. Or perhaps they die... or have something happen to a sex organ, or... you get it, right?And lastly, John Irving novels deal with important subject matters: abortion, faith, rape, fidelity, sexuality, war, the list goes on. When writing of this novel, another reviewer wrote this: “Once the novel jumps the shark, you realize Irving has all along been cruel and insensitive on every page of the book – on the subject of rape, on the idea of sibling sexual attraction, on the adoption of feminist concept, on political dissent, on prostitution, and on the lives of little people.” I couldn’t disagree more. Irving is very even-handed and sensitive when it comes to these topics. He, in fact, deals with them so humanly, delicately, and skillfully, that he's able to use dark humor as a way of comforting the reader. Trust me: he never downplays important subject matters; he treats them the way great authors do: with consideration, compassion, and heart.And that brings me to the big issue that it's in this novel, which is rape. There's an early chapter that details a gang rape, and it's one of the most disturbing, soul-wrenching chapters I've ever read in my life; hands down. The effects of rape recur throughout the novel. It doesn't just effect the victim, but the families and friends of the victim, as well, and all in different ways. In The Cider House Rules Irving personalized abortion for me; giving me a sick feeling in the gut when faced with the accounts of women who had to make that difficult choice before it was legal. In The Hotel New Hampshire Irving personalized the horror of rape in the same soul shaking way.Some believe this book is too wacky and unbelievable, even for Irving. Wild love triangles, incestual romantic love, two bears, a jewish performer named Freud, living in hotels, characters going blind, radicals, screwed-up taxidermy, dwarfs, lots of prostitutes. As said earlier, for me, most of the odd misadventures involved are not unrealistic, but rather natural manifestations of the novels' quirky but realistic characters. All the wild things that happen keep it entertaining. But some of the scenes do seem out of place; like they were thrown into the larger story in an unnatural fashion. The only other small qualm I have is that Irving overdoes the storytelling from time-to-time. When he artfully and heartfully gets into stories that relate to the novels' general themes, the novel wins. But when the novel gets bogged down in detailed accounts of irrelevant side stories, it loses. This novel could have been 50 to 75 pages shorter, and probably better for it.I only bring these two issues up to explain why I didn't give this novel five stars, despite my strong reaction to it, and despite my love for it. It's still a damn good book, and you should still read it; or at least pick up an Irving novel, if you haven't. (I'll tell you for a third and fourth time if I have to.)"It was the end of the summer of 1964; I hadn't been in the United States since 1957, and I knew less about my country than some of the Viennese students knew. I also knew less about Vienna than any of them. I knew about my family, I knew about our whores, and our radicals; I was an expert on The Hotel New Hampshire and an amateur at everything else."Ultimately this novel is about acceptance, and valuing the time you have on earth with those worthy of your love. It's special how Irving makes this novel work; like an almost magical piece of artwork, everything comes together to make a beautiful whole.

  • Henry Avila
    2019-04-13 03:03

    Win(slow) Berry, is a dreamer never satisfied with life, as it is. Always wanting to climb over the hill, to see what's on the other side. It will always be better, over there! An unhappy childhood with only one parent, to raise him, a physical fitness fanatic, rather cold but a good man...The single father Bob (Coach Bob), his wife having died, giving birth to Win. The dedicated football coach at the prep school, in Dairy, New Hampshire, called unimaginatively, the Dairy School. A second rate institution, for boys thrown out of superior ones, or not even able to get in them in the first place. Without the school, the small town would cease to exist. Win has no brothers or sisters, a lonely boy, very intelligent but nevertheless an unfortunate one. His life really begins in 1939, at a resort hotel, The Arbuthnot-by-the-Sea, in Maine, there he falls in love with Mary Bates, also from Dairy, they had kept away, from each other. She attended Thompson Female Seminary, Win, ( the name he prefers) of course the Dairy School, both are employees, at the hotel, during the summer. There they meet Freud, just his nickname, folks... not the famous psychoanalyst. An animal trainer, who has a bear act, performing nightly, outside the Arbuthnot, while the guests, are having dinner... a little unsettling . State O' Maine, the 400 lbs. bear loves the motorcycle. He sits in the sidecar, as Freud drives, scaring people , just the timid... even doing a dance. The young couple, get engaged and become great friends with Freud, who had encouraged the union, both are 19. Win goes to Harvard, but first he buys the bear and the motorcycle, from "Freud", he unwisely, returns to his native Austria. The animal act, with State O' Maine, Win calls the old bear Earl, is rather shall we say, not the best. Taking two long years before he has enough money, to get back to Harvard. Children arrive very quickly, Frank, Franny, John (the narrator of our story), Lilly and Egg... don't ask. Bang, bang, bang, etc., as Franny would say, many times afterwards, the eccentric family, is complete. Later, the father tells them stories, that maybe are not quite true, but still fun to hear, better than the mother's, she doesn't lie. After serving safely, in World War Two, at an Air Base, in Italy. Win not really an accurate name for him, returns home, graduates from Harvard, gets a job, where else, but the Dairy School, teaching English. And soon buys the closed Thompson Female Seminary, the Dairy School, finally letting girls in. The dreamer starts The Hotel New Hampshire , few customers though in the crummy hotel, it will not be the last one, he tries to run. The novel has incest, rape, terrorists, midgets, whores, and tragedies... And comic situations, a girl in a bear suit , how cool, after all this is really a comedy, believe it or not ? If you enjoy novels that are different , maybe over the top from the norm, The Hotel New Hampshire will be for you.

  • Edward Lorn
    2019-03-25 02:59

    The Hotel New Hampshire is book five in my John Irving Challenge, wherein I am attempting to read all of John Irving's novels in under a year's time. On with the review.Incest is the best! Oof. Just typing that made my stomach flip. Incest is one of my only triggers. That and the death of very young children, kids between zero and five, their deaths just fucking wreck me, man. Incest just makes me feel ill. It's a core reaction. Not sure where the aversion stems from, if it's natural or learned, but yeah, yuck. John Irving's fifth novel was a challenging read for me. It made me reevaluate how I looked at consensual incest; family members who are a) over the age of consent and b) horny for each other. My final opinion on it hasn't changed, but it did make me consider what my stance on the subject should be, on a moral level. And my conclusion is, I will treat it like I treat the topic of abortion. More on that in a minute. The Hotel New Hampshire is a fantastically-written book. The level of emotional detail is stunning. It's heartbreaking and thought-provoking and all those other back-cover blurbs. But the thing that impacted me the most was not to my liking. That is the aforementioned incest. And, unfortunately, that is what I feel will stay with me the longest. But why is that? Let's talk about it.Why should I care what grown people do in the privacy of their own bedrooms? I don't agree with abortion, but I understand that's not my fucking place to speak. At the end of the day, how I feel about abortion does not matter. For one, I'm a man. I'll never have to put my body through a pregnancy. Secondly, I feel that abortion is a far better option than a child being raised by people who do not want it, or being raised in the system, or being raised in any other toxic environment. Thirdly, it's none of my business what other people do with their own bodies. (Is that the same thing as the first reason? Probably, but I feel it bears repeating.) So, other than it being illegal, is incest wrong if it is between two consenting adults who *shivers* want each other sexually? Fuck if I know. This discussion is too multi-layered for my pea-brain to tackle, so I'm taking the abortion-stance route. As long as it doesn't affect me, do whatever the fuck you want. Prolly best if you keep that shit on the DL though, just sayin.With or without the incest, this is a great read. I never once wanted to put it down. Due to that alone, I feel that I cannot award it any less than four stars. The only reason I'm giving it four instead of five is because I was disturbed, to my core, by John and Franny's relationship. I enjoyed nothing about it. Irving went too far, I feel, but all good literature does. I simply can't say it was a perfect read when I was dreading whole sections.Even as I type this I'm flip-flopping. But I think I'll stick with four stars. I honestly want to give it five, but I know the family-play will put some people off as much as it put me off. Yeah, okay, whatever, four stars. Maybe.Okay, for today it's four stars. Tomorrow? Who the fuck knows.In summation: A four-star read in a five-star package. The Hotel New Hampshire is wonderfully written and affecting. If you can handle sex between siblings, give it a try. It's not the entire plot, but it does take up much of the last fourth of the book. Final Judgment: I can honestly say this is the best book with an incestuous relationship that I've read.

  • Dave
    2019-04-20 09:50

    "So we dream on. Thus we invent our lives. We give ourselves a sainted mother, we make our father a hero; and someone's older brother, and someone's older sister - they become our heroes, too. We invent what we love, and what we fear. There is always a brave, lost brother - and a little lost sister, too. We dream on and on; the best hotel, the perfect family, the resort life. And our dreams escape us almost as vividly as we can imagine them."I have started writing this review four, five times? I can't remember anymore. Each time, I get a few lines into it, and realize I'm falling terribly short of what I really want to say. This novel broke my heart. It is beautiful and lyrical and warm and funny and it broke my fucking heart, with each and every paragraph, every word. That's really all I can say about it. Read it."You have to keep passing the open windows."

  • Lawyer
    2019-03-31 06:54

    The Hotel New Hampshire: John Irving's Fairy Tale of Life"A dream is fulfillment of a wish."--The Interpretation of Dreams by Sigmund FreudOne of the benefits of having your favorite professor of psychology as your next door neighbor is learning that he is a very widely read man. We are an odd pair, I suppose. He is 76. I am 59. But through the years we have known one another we have become best friends. We frequently exchange books the other has not read.It is safe to say that Howard is fond of literature that some might find "quirky." That's fine with me. That which is quirky can be quite fascinating. Howard can also be subject to a touch of hyperbole. So when he handed me his copy of The Hotel New Hampshire, declaring it the finest book written in the English language, I graciously accepted it, not revealing the grain of salt I reserved for his high accolade.While I would not proclaim "The Hotel New Hampshire" the finest book written in the English language, it is a book I came to love with the passage of each page. Quirky? Oh, there's no question about it. Iowa Bob Berry is the football coach of Dairy Prep School in Dairy, New Hampshire. The school doesn't quite make the top tier of preparatory schools in New England, but it serves its purpose for the wealthy whose children don't fall into the top tier of students that attend the top tier schools. It comes, then, rather a surprise that Iowa Bob's son, Win,is Harvard material. The problem is, that although he has been accepted to attend it's going to take hard work to earn the money to afford the tuition.Now,Dairy Prep is an all boys' school. It comes as no surprise that Win's girl of his dreams is unknown to him although they live in the same town. However, after graduation, the two nineteen year olds spend their summer working at Arbuthnot by the Sea, a resort in Maine. Nor does it come as a surprise that the two fall in love over that wondrous summer.There is definitely a fairy tale quality to the courtship of Win Berry and Mary Bates, the daughter of a very scholarly family. Another employee at Arbuthnot is Freud, not Sigmund, of course, but Freud a mechanic, who entertains the guests with the antics of pet bear, "State O' Maine" who rides a 1937 Indian Motorcycle. At the end of summer, 1939, Freud announces he's returning to his home in Vienna, not a wise thing to do. He sells the motorcycle and the bear to Win for $200.00 for Win's promises he marry Mary, attend Harvard, and one day will apologize to Mary for an event Freud does not reveal.Win makes good on the first promise quickly. Win and Mary begin to be fruitful between the entertainment seasons during which Win is earning his tuition at various resorts with the use of the Indian and the Bear. World War II puts a hitch in Win's enrollment at Harvard. However, he returns safely, graduates from Harvard and takes a teaching position at Dairy, now a coed facility.The Berry children are Frank, Franny, John Harvard, Lilly, and the youngest,known as Egg. John, the middle child, narrates the novel in first person. Win quickly becomes dissatisfied with his teaching position. He buys the now vacant female seminary to convert it to a hotel as there is no other in Dairy.I've mentioned that Irving's novel has a fairy tale quality to it. It's necessary to remember that there are the lighter tales of Hans Christian Anderson and there is the darker side of the genre by the Brothers Grimm. As the story of the Berry clan proceeds, it is evident that Irving has chosen to follow the Grimm route.Frank is gay. He is targeted for humiliation by the backfield of the Dairy football team, quarterbacked by Chip Dove. The same backfield rapes Franny. She refuses to report that she has been raped, but minimizes the attack by saying she had been beaten up. Lilly has a rare disorder which prevents her from growing. Egg is practically deaf following a series of ear infections.Win receives an offer to sell the Hotel. And who should appear to offer the Berry family a change of scenery but Freud, now the owner of a hotel in Vienna, Austria. Win is his pick to help improve his gasthaus to the level of a fine hotel.Freud could use the help. It's an odd establishment. One floor is occupied by prostitutes, who may ply their trade legally in Vienna. Another floor is occupied by a group of radicals, despising the old order and anything smacking of tradition. Win has his work cut out for him. Freud has obtained a smarter bear, Susie. She's considerably smarter than State O' Maine. She happens to be a young woman who does a divine impression of a bear, not only serving as an entertainer, but a body guard for the ladies of the evening upstairs. And, oh, yes, Susie was the victim of sexual assault as well. She considers herself ugly, and is content to hide behind the bear suit."The Hotel New Hampshire" was written and directed by Tony Richardson for the screen in 1984.The radicals upstairs are a dangerous group. They plan to set off an automobile bomb which will cause a sympathetic bomb under the stage of the Vienna Opera House on the premiere night of the fall season. I leave it to the reader to discern whether the attempt is successful,or not, and who lives and who dies.The Vienna Opera HouseThe Berry family return to the United States. Lilly has written a best seller "Trying to Grow." This deus ex machina allows the Berrys to live a comfortable life, though all of life's normal travails continue to follow them through out their lives.As Irving tells us, sorrow, love, and doom float through each of our lives. It's how we each handle those unavoidable currents that determine the satisfaction of our lives.Iowa Bob, training John Harvard to be a weight lifter, put him on a strict regimen of exercise. "You have to be obsessed. Obsessed. Keep passing those open windows." Having lived approaching sixty years, I'd have to say you can't live just standing still. Some dreams become wishes which are fulfilled. Some are not. Just persevere.I have read a number of reviews of "The Hotel New Hampshire." You will certainly find its detractors here. Those unfavorable reviews note the dysfunctional nature of the Berry family. Similar reviews find Irving's emphasis on sexual assault unnerving. While I've noted Irving's fairy tale nature of storytelling in this novel, life isn't a fairy tale. The events described in Irving's novel happen all too frequently. As a bit of a post script, I have to say Irving did his research on the dynamics of sexual assault and its effects on survivors. Yes, sorrow also floats.

  • Semjon
    2019-03-26 09:08

    Ein traumhaftes Buch! Im wahrsten Sinne des Wortes. Ich meine dies also nicht schwärmerisch, sondern vielmehr wortgetreu. Ich kam mir beim Lesen der Geschichte der Familie Berry oft so vor, als würde ich nach einem wilden Traum am Morgen aufwachen. Es gibt Träume, die spielen ja in realistischen Umgebungen mit bekannten Personen, doch plötzlich tauchen andere Menschen oder Wesen auf, die eigentlich gar nicht hier hingehören und der eigene Traum wird skurril und surreal. Wie anders soll es einem denn vorkommen, wenn sprechende Bären, abgehalfterte Prostituierte, Terroristen, zwergenhafte Gestalten, sexbessene Menschen und die eigene Familie plötzlich in einem Haus wohnen. Und dies mit einer völligen Selbstverständlichkeit erzähl wird. Die Familie Berry betreibt in diesem Rückblick auf mehrere Dekaden insgesamt vier Hotels New Hampshire. Man kann somit jedes Hotel als eine Lebensstufe des Ich-Erzählers John sehen, der das mittlere der fünf Kinder ist. Das Buch ist voll geladenen mit Symboliken, Anspielungen, aber auch Kopien aus anderen Büchern. Es ist wunderbar erzählt, vor allem äußerst liebe- und humorvoll, aber halt auch an vielen Stellen sehr derbe und vulgär. Das muss man sicher mögen, denn ansonsten stößt einen das Buch ab. Am Hotel New Hampshire kann man gut erkennen, warum man sagt: Irving hast man oder liebt man. An manchen Stellen war mir das Wiener Hotel New Hampshire auch zu grotesk und ich hatte mich an das idyllische Familienleben im ersten Hotel NH in der ausgedienten Mädchenschule in New England zurück gesehnt. Das lag wohl aber daran, dass ich die Erzählung in dieser Phase zu verkopft aufnahm und mich daher am fehlenden Realismus störte. Erst als mir der Zusammenhang mit dem Träumen bewusst wurde, gerade weil auch Siegmund Freud aus der Traumdeutung oft zitiert wird, habe ich meine Sichtweise geändert, habe das Buch eher als Märchen anstatt als Biografie gesehen und fand auf diese Weise auch wieder die Faszination am Buch zurück. Biografisch ist allenfalls der Bezug zu Irvings Leben, der Ringer (John ist fanatischer Gewichteheber), der Wiener (wo Irving lange lebte) oder der Literaturwissenschaftler (es gibt unzählige Parallelen zu anderen Büchern und Autoren, die er vereehrt, z.B. Der Große Gatsby oder auch die Blechtrommel (gerade die vielen Zwerge im Buch)). Das Leitmotiv bleibt aber die Liebe zum Leben und die Bessenheit zu einer persönlichen Sache. Die hat wohl jedes Familienmitglied. Der Vater will das beste Hotel, Frank das beste ausgestopfte Tier erstellen, Franny den besten Sex, John ist bessesen von Franny (ganz heftige Inzuchtsszene) und die kleinwüchsige Lilly bessesen vom Wachsen. Aber alles soll mit Vorsicht betrieben werden. Auch das ist ein Leitmotiv der Familie, vorallem durch Opa Iowa Bob ständig ausgerufen: Just keep passing the open windows. Ein Titel eines Queen-Songs, der für den Film geschrieben wurde (hab ich auch erst dadurch erfahren).Es hat mir auf jeden Fall sehr große Freude bereitet, die Familie Berry zu begleiten und ich werde sie vermissen. Schon alleine dieses Gefühl des Verlusts nach dem Lesen der letzen Seite sagt mir, dass alles andere als 5 Sterne für mich nicht gerechtfertigt wären.

  • Schmacko
    2019-04-07 05:05

    (This was the first book of my new book club).John Irving is one of America’s great writers. Happy Days was one of America’s most popular television shows. (Don’t worry this will make sense later)Happy Days was beloved, but everyone knows there was one episode where everything seems to start to go downhill for Fonzie and the kids; it was the episode where Fonzie drove his motorcycle over a ramp and jumped a shark. Now the phrase “jumped the shark” is utilized for that point whenever anything goes absurd, turns sours, declines, takes a turn for the worse, or generally decreases in value.In Hotel New Hampshire, John Irving starts by writing a pretty affecting and darkly comic book about family and their commitment to each other. The Berry family follows the dreamer father Win and his ridiculous, half-baked schemes to relative ruin. Before the five children are born, Win buys a circus bear and motorcycle off of a Jewish performer. When the children are young, the family converts an old girls’ school into a downscale hotel – The Hotel New Hampshire. Later, they’ll follow the dad to Europe and back.The book is well-written and easy to read. Also, there is some macabre humor with the bear, the family dog, and some misaimed taxidermy. However, the book also contains rape and incest. But THAT isn’t particularly where Hotel New Hampshire jumps the shark; it could have been handled in a sensitive and insightful way (it isn’t, but it could’ve been). The place where the whole story goes severely awry is half-way through the book with the reintroduction of the bear theme (and that’s what it feels like, a reintroduction of a theme, and not a natural or believable turn of a good story. It’s wholly implausible; I found myself actually loathing and disbelieving the idea and the character it was attached to).Once the novel jumps the shark, you realize Irving has all along been cruel and insensitive on every page of the book – on the subject of rape, on the idea of sibling sexual attraction, on the adoption of feminist concept, on political dissent, on prostitution, and on the lives of little people. One thing saves this book; for all his callousness, Irving can still – almost accidentally – write about the love of a mother in a way that is emotionally affecting. He can create the peculiar personalities of siblings that make you care for them and want to be related to them. He creates a unique and lovable grandfather, and even the dreamer dad is sweet in many ways. Especially affecting is the story of the old Jewish performer and his love for his adopted Berry family.Still, there’s that major stumble exactly half-way through the book that makes me wince each and every time I think about it. Some writers jump the shark – others fall in the tank.

  • Laura
    2019-03-30 05:15

    To describe the plotline of The Hotel New Hampshire to a questioning would-be reader is to realize that you’ve been enthralled with a plot that is, at its core, rather silly. Circus bears and run-down hotels, plane crashes (so silly!) and midgets, botched taxidermy and obsessive weight-lifting – these are what Irving novels are made of. This was an undeniably fun read that I sped through, and I picked up another Irving (A Widow for One Year) as soon as I was done (I just can’t get enough). It will be a sad day when I run out of Irving books and have to subsist on the memories of novels gone by.Irving does an exceptional job of creating a story surrounding the lives of children without being trapped within the confines of a children’s book. The innocence of childhood is mixed with a healthy dose of sexual confusion, social angst, and slapstick comedy to engage the reader in the concerns of this young family as they grow and seek their fortune (or at least their subsistence) in the hotel industry.

  • Jason
    2019-04-02 06:07

    Awesome book. I had never read Irving before, and I have no idea why not. He's like that Deli that you always drive by but never go into, then one day decide "what the hell" and it turns out to have the best pastrami sandwich you've ever had in your life. Anyway, the story revolves around an unusual family growing up and learning about sex, sports, love, death, failure, success, etc etc. It's quirky and funny and strange - Irving has a knack for finding little bits of truth in truly bizarre situations.Oh, and the main love story is between a brother and sister, so...yeah.My only complaint is that the ending is a little too neat, everything fits together a little too well. The rest of the book is messy and bursting at the seams, so it doesn't quite fit. Other than that though, 4 stars.

  • Kate
    2019-03-30 09:52

    i've probably read this 10 times now. i went through a john irving phase, and i ODed about half-way through. (140lb marriage is a terrible book, btw. don't do it).but this is one of my favorite books. it would be desert island number three, but it's a little too sad... i don't think it would be a good idea to isolate myself with it on an island to read again and again for eternity. that said, it's irving at his best. anyone who can take a family involved in incest and abuse and prostitution and suicide and still somehow make you love them and identify with them is a pretty fantastic writer. totally ironic (whatever that really means) and sympathetic. it's sad, and even painful, so i often think about picking it up, but don't. it takes a certain mindset. but everyone should read it at least once.

  • Cody | codysbookshelf
    2019-04-08 10:04

    I feel a little bad for finishing this book so quickly, as John Irving spends years writing his books — in longhand, no less! — and a lot of work goes into constructing his stories, but I could not put this down. Never before I have been that enamored so soon when reading an Irving novel; typically, it takes a chapter or two until I warm up to the world he is building. Not so with The Hotel New Hampshire. I was charmed from the start. One’s enjoyment of this novel will likely hinge on his or her threshold for ‘triggering’ subjects. Incest is arguably the heart of this book; Irving handles the topic with love and care, but I know the subject is an unpleasant one for many readers — and the author does not shy away from it; Irving handles it with his typical deftness. He wants to throttle his reader, to push him or her out of the comfort zone . . . and he accomplishes that. On display is the typical Irving-isms: bears, New England private schools, Vienna, prostitution, sexual awakenings, sexual experimentation, shocking deaths, wacky situations. It’s John Irving; he certainly is not for everyone, but for his fans, in this hotel can be found familiar pleasures.

  • Kinga
    2019-04-09 06:48

    I've always known about 'Hotel New Hampshire'. I never knew what it was about but I knew there was a book. I knew there was a film too. I somehow imagined it to be something Hitchock-like mixed Last Tango In Paris. Imagine my surprise. So far there is something about a bear. I will finish this review when I am done reading.Ok. Done reading. I don't think John Irving will ever get five stars from me. Though he is an excellent story-teller - and this is what a purpose of every novel should be - to tell a good story. All modern and not so modern writers that have some other hidden agenda should probably consider a career change. Telling stories is what writing novels is all about. And John Irving does that superbly. You never know if it is a plot-driven novel or character-driven novel because he seems to put equal effort into developing both his characters and his story. They go hand in hand and develop together. Kudos for that.As a true story teller Irving often goes astray. He just loves to digress, and digress... and digress... However, it didn't bother me at all in The Hotel New Hampshire (unlike in the Prayer for Owen Meany). The real problem I have with Irving and the reason why probably will never get five stars from me is his really cheesy symbolism. I have no problem with books asking me for a serious supsense of disbelief. But Irving puts all that crazy sh!%$ in his books just so he can have his symbolism. I think his tricks are cheap. And sometimes I really don't know. Is Irving a truly amazing writer or is he just tricking me into believing he is while always serving me the same recycled dish?

  • Matt
    2019-04-22 05:55

    I winced, cringed, and rolled my eyes through this. The only other Irving I'd read was Garp and I absolutely adored it...until about the last third. The spell Irving had woven over me wore off and the book started to grate; this one wore out its welcome in the first hundred pages. I can't stand the precious little phrases the characters use constantly throughout the book (what?, open windows, 464, blah, blah, blah) and the motifs from the author's other works (bears, athletic obsession, lust, castration fear). The work starts out in the town of Precious and moves on to Cloyington and then settles in Contrivedville.To me, this stuff is the bastard child of Dickens & Tom Robbins. That mix obviously appeals to many readers, I'm just not one of them. I still have a copy of A Prayer for Owen Meany that I intend to read, as I am told that's his best work. Maybe I'll enjoy that one. I certainly hope so.

  • Mack
    2019-03-28 09:15

    This is an unusual but extremely outrageous and humourous read. I am a big fan of John Irving. It is just plain weird in parts of the story of the Berry Family as their Father aspires to own a hotel or two. There’s a lot of the unconventional issues in the plot, rape, incest, homosexuality and many more unexpected events with a bunch of lovable, quirky characters to add and nurture. It’s quite a tragic story really with family heartbreak but they know that the one thing that matters is your family and “the way the world worked – which was badly – was just a strong incentive to live purposefully, and to be determined about living well “.

  • Deena
    2019-03-24 06:13

    I learned never to read John Irving ever again. I'd like to give this even less than one star, if there were a way.

  • Thomas Strömquist
    2019-04-06 09:58

    Irving is a great storyteller and novelist with characters that come to life in being all but flawless and also by taking views and actions that are unexpected, very much like in life. He also has a few strange interests, such as bears, wrestling and much more and a few of them are in evidence in this one as well. 'Hampshire' is good, but not one of his best, mostly due to it being quite the bumpy ride, parts are amazing and some parts are easily missed. I would start with another one of his.

  • Rob
    2019-04-08 07:57

    One of my most revelatory professional discoveries is also stupidly simple. It’s this, courtesy of Bob Probst: Reading is a selfish venture.It is. Of course it is. I’m disappointed in myself for not realizing it earlier, because it’s a principle – probably one of the top two or three – that guides my work with pre-service English teachers, and it would’ve transformed the way I taught English in high school. I was reminded of the selfishness of the reading enterprise as I made my way through John Irving’s The Hotel New Hampshire, more on which in a couple minutes.Here’s why it’s important to consider the solipsistic nature of reading, especially for the teachers in my audience. We read, let’s say 99% of the time, for our own reasons and purposes. We certainly do this when we read for pleasure, but even professional reading is done for specific personal reasons. I pick up a novel to get lost in the characters, to savor the author’s use of language, to find myself carried along by plot and conflict; when I conduct research for an article I’m writing, my personal reasons look very different, but the act of scouring journals and other texts for salient information is also highly personal, and how it looks depends on what I’m writing. In both cases, I’m reading for my reasons, and this holds true for just about everyone, no matter what they read.School is the only place where people are regularly called on to read for external reasons over which they have no control. They want to score well on the quiz, write the paper, contribute to the discussion – and the parameters for success on all those activities are probably set by the teacher. In my experience, students are rarely encouraged to read for their own purposes, which is a direct contradiction of the way people read in the world outside of and beyond school. We read what interests us – or, if we’re not sure if something interests us, we bring our own experience and knowledge to bear on the text in an effort to make meaning of it.And so it was for me with The Hotel New Hampshire.(As a side note, this is, of course, where the Common Core State Standards get reading completely wrong. In the English standards’ slavish adherence to “the four corners of the page” and standards author David Coleman’s desire that students not access their prior knowledge and history – essentially asking students to come to the text as a blank slate, which precisely no one ever does – the selfish aspect of reading is left entirely out of the equation. By focusing completely on providing textual evidence for whatever superficial task the teacher has mandated, student choice is eliminated completely. We’re asking students to read in complete defiance of what we know about how people read, which means most of the reading tasks they’re asked to complete in school are completely artificial, and with very little transfer to the way we read outside of school. It’s asinine.)Back to The Hotel New Hampshire, and from here on in I tread lightly.I enjoyed the book, but it’s problematic for a lot of reasons, touching as it does on anti-Semitism, adolescent sexuality, incest, prostitution, terrorism, and rape, all while somehow being laugh-out-loud funny. It details the exploits of the Berry family – mainly father Win and his children Frank, Franny, John (who narrates the book), and Lily – and the three hotels they own (in New Hampshire, Vienna, and Maine) over the course of twentyish years. The last item in that lengthy list of the book’s sensitive subjects hangs over everything after Franny is raped in high school by several boys, and it’s tempting to read it as the catalyst for much of what develops later between her and John.The interesting thing – and what prompted me to think carefully about the inherent selfishness of reading – is how I homed in on Franny’s rape as the book’s defining event even though it isn’t really about rape or misogyny or even, broadly, gender politics. It’s certainly part of the book’s tapestry, but if I said this was a book about rape, I’d be lying.And yet.The treatment of women in our culture has been on my mind lately due to the recent video of the woman being sexually harassed on the streets of New York and the misogynist cowards behind Gamergate and the threats levied against critic Anita Sarkeesian and the necessity of #YesAllWomen. It’s the Hobby Lobby decision and the GOP’s rejection of equal pay for women and even yesterday’s exceedingly lame conference focusing on “men’s issues” on the campus where I teach. If the autumn of 2014 taught us anything, it’s that men, as the saying goes, are pigs.So I was already sensitive to this subject, and I felt anything but optimistic about the direction in which I saw Irving heading. It seems spectacularly foolhardy to think a man has anything worth saying about rape, but to make it one of the key events of a novel had all the makings of a Hindenburg-style disaster. Because of the way I was already attuned to the issue, I was perhaps more prepared to trace its development than any of the other problems Irving presents us with.There’s one big reason why I think Irving’s handling of this most sensitive issue ultimately works: it’s nuanced. That seems counterintuitive when dealing with an issue like rape, so I should probably clarify that it’s the aftermath of the rape that’s nuanced. The crime itself is never seen as anything other than the brutal act it is, but Irving’s characters resist convenient responses. Franny, as the victim, somehow manages to be the strongest character in the book – she refuses to see herself as a victim, claiming that while, yes, she was physically assaulted, the rapists never touched her emotionally, never got to, as she puts it, “the me in me” – while continuing to write letters to one of her assailants for years after the attack because she was in love with him at the time.In Vienna, the family meets Susie, a fellow rape survivor (who also dresses as a bear, which is too convoluted a backstory to discuss here), who says that Franny’s response is ridiculous. According to Susie, Franny’s blithe refusal to see herself as a victim indicates a refusal to deal with the crime itself, and by not attacking her assailants at the time, “she sacrificed her own integrity.” The problem with this view, John the narrator realizes, is the fact that it reflects Susie’s own refusal to acknowledge that everyone is different, everyone processes trauma differently, and that by demanding Franny handle her rape in the same way Susie dealt with hers, she’s robbing Franny of her individual authenticity:"Even before she started talking to Franny, I could see how desperately important this woman’s private unhappiness was to her, and how – in her mind – the only credible reaction to the event of rape was hers. That someone else might have responded differently to a similar abuse only meant to her that the abuse couldn’t possibly have been the same.‘People are like that,’ Iowa Bob would have said. ‘They need to make their own worst experiences universal. It gives them a kind of support.’And who can blame them? It is just infuriating to argue with someone like that; because of an experience that has denied them their humanity, they go around denying another kind of humanity in others, which is the truth of human variety – it stands alongside our sameness."And this seems to me to be what the book is all about: simultaneously glorying in human difference while also realizing the problems it causes. Is that the definitive answer of what Irving is going for with The Hotel New Hampshire? Probably not. There are, as I said earlier, many other issues at play in the book, and that’s without mentioning how the book examines the idea of family: what it is, how it starts, what holds it all together, how it handles loss, and so on. There are many angles from which a reader can make sense of The Hotel New Hampshire, but I, rightly or wrongly, made sense of it through the lens of Irving’s sensitive handling of the aftermath of rape. And that’s because I, recently dismayed at the preponderance of misogyny in our culture, selfishly (and in defiance of the Common Core) took ownership of my own reading.The Hotel New Hampshire is so rich that it invites these kind of readings, and to reduce it, as I sort of have, to a book only about rape, is to do it a disservice. The strongest thing working in its favor is that I could read it multiple times and see an entirely different story each time.More reviews at

  • Jessie
    2019-04-22 02:16

    I recently came across a review of John Irving's work which claimed that only three of his novels are worth reading: A Prayer for Owen Meany, The Cider House Rules, and The World According to Garp. The Hotel New Hampshire, the reviewer claimed, is pretty good, but too "odd" to be considered great.It is oddity that makes The Hotel New Hampshire worth reading (over and over). I have read The Hotel New Hampshire at least 5 times, and have found that it improves with each reading. True, the characters and the events of the novel are wierd and improbable. But the depth and poignant accuracry with which Irving describes his characters' emotions as they live through a series of tragically bizarre events makes every moment feel one-hundred-percent true. Irving's gift is for describing the odd and the everyday with such clarity that the odd feels true and the everyday feels extraordinary. This is nowhere more true than in The Hotel New Hampshire. Even after multiple readings, I walk away from this novel dazed, convinced that the Berrys are people that I actually knew once upon a time. This book cannot be written off as too "odd" to read, for the Berrys feel true. The Hotel New Hampshire must be read - if for no other reason than to encounter the single greatest family motto ever: "Keep passing the open windows." Who knew you could put a positive spin on "Don't Jump!"?

  • Jacob
    2019-04-11 05:04

    August 2008This book seems to thumb its nose at the 1-5 star rating scale, and I almost can't decide what to think of it. Five stars? Well, the first part of the novel--the First Hotel New Hampshire--is certainly worth that. Four stars? In places, yes. Three stars? The ending, in the epilogue and the Third Hotel. Two stars and one star? Jesus God, the Second Hotel, Vienna, the return of Freud--and that bear!In a way, The Hotel New Hampshire feels partly like a companion novel to The World According to Garp. Where John Irving apparently spent his first three novels paving the way for, and building up to, Garp, with hints of that great book scattered here and there, waiting to be born, this novel after Garp feels like a glorified dumping-ground for all of Irving's leftover ideas: Vienna, whores, bears, the theme of rape, unusual childhoods, New England, doomed writers, strange sexual couplings, both the comic and tragic deaths--all of that is there, though altered, slightly twisted, made to fit an eccentric father and his eccentric family trapped in a serious world instead of a serious woman and her serious son trapped in an eccentric world. Yet despite all that, I can't really bring myself to hate this book. Like I said, it still feels like a companion piece to Garp, my favorite Irving book. What drew me into The World According to Garp was the way Irving took a historical setting, postwar New England and Europe, and used that as a launching point to invent his own history (rather than starting with a slightly invented setting and using that as a launchpad for his characters to be shaped by history instead, as in A Prayer for Owen Meany), and that's the same thing that drew me into this book. Whatever else happened to America and the world in the '50s and '60s doesn't matter--here comes the Berry Family!So even if the mirror The Hotel New Hampshire holds up to Garp is one of those crazy twisted funhouse mirrors, I still have fond feelings for it. And because three stars is the average of five, four, three, two, and one--well, three stars it gets, and yet it's still a favorite.

  • Alex Watkins
    2019-04-05 08:09

    So far this is the weakest John Irving book I have read. His books are always crazy and slightly unbelievable, but this is the first time I didn't believe. Spoilers ahead. First off all I just didn't believe the plane death. Who travels in plans separately, did people actually do this? You drive in the same car together, going separately just doubles your risk. Plane crashes are just so unlikely that I didn't buy this for a second. I really liked Egg and Mother, but wasn't sad when they died because it was so unrealistic. Too many of the characters in this book die that I feel John Irving is just ticking them off, plus people don't die of fright as easily as they seem to in this book. Finally his portrayal of the family from Arizona just seemed laughable. They took a trip to Maine and saw the ocean for the first time? Does John Irving forget there is a west coast? Or for that matter lots of places to go skiing that aren't all the way in Maine.For all my complaining I did like many parts of the book, my favorite by far was the middle of the book, the 2nd hotel new Hampshire when they are in Vienna that part is great. Although I would have loved to know more about Frank he seemed like an interesting character who just mostly fades to the background.

  • Ally
    2019-03-26 07:46

    Hotel New Hampshire is that book for me. That one great book. It makes me want to go back to any other book I rated with 5 stars and lower them down at least one - because surely they do not compare to this one.It's impossible to summarize Hotel New Hampshire and have it make sense to someone who has either not read it, or not read anything else by Irving. It contains bears, little people, taxidermy and radicals. The story has many fantastical elements - but at the core of this novel is a story about a family and how it endures. Irving will spend pages describing simple things, yet major events that take place last but a sentence or two. I've re-read this book several times now, and with each reading I discover new layers of the story.Beyond this - it is difficult for me to make sense of what to write about this book to entice someone to read it - yet not give away any gems that one will discover upon reading it. I will say this - if you are able to read this book and take the lighthearted moments with a smile and the more serious moments with some thought - you will undoubtedly enjoy this book.So we dream on - thus we invent our lives.

  • Eyehavenofilter
    2019-04-16 02:55

    Well....let me first say that this family is probably, cray-cray even more than most. It drained my life force the entire time I was reading it. Not the first book with incest, I ever read, but certainly the most gratuitous and disturbing. It was distasteful to say the least. I felt badly for the black Lab, he got the worst treatment.. I dunno what people found endearing about this book, maybe I just didn't get it, and I'm glad I didn't.Irving you really tried my patience with this one, I shall steer clear of you for a very long time. There's something very wrong up in that melon of yours, and I don't want to find out what it is, thank you very much. I choose to remain clueless......

  • Rachel Elizabeth
    2019-04-04 10:01

    It was fate that this book and I would eventually converge, I think. My writing program friends from school -- namely Kyle and the girl who started the extra curricular writing group I was a part of for two years -- frequently gushed about John Irving. My bookish aunt devoured all of his older works in high school. I made an attempt to read A Widow for One Year my freshman year of college and it left me cold, for as much as I trust those tastes. I felt little drive to ever pick him up again.Then, in the span of a week: I found enthusiastic reviews of Irving's work on Ask Metafilter, my other go-to book recommendation source (really, read their book recommendation posts, so good). My friend Snotchocheez mailed me his copy, a blind response to my "send whatever you think I should read!" suggestion as an exchange for House of Holes (sorry, I think you lost on that one, bud). Shortly after receiving the book from him, I was out to a rare-these-days in-town lunch with smoreads, who said, "You know what I just read that was great? The Hotel New Hampshire." CREEPY.So thank you, little world of friends and Internet, for conspiring to get me to retry John Irving. Tens of people can't be wrong! If I were the type to pound down the works of an author I discovered I love in succession, I'd probably do that right now. The Hotel New Hampshire reminds me, in the best way, of Middlesex. It precedes that book by over two decades and doesn't have quite the uniqueness of voice of Calliope Stephanides, but it shares similar, uh, motifs. It's this big, bold, comic family tragedy that's so unbelievable, but not entirely beyond the realm of plausibility, that Irving has to keep reminding us that "everything is a fairy tale". It was exactly what I wanted to read right now. And let me just say, Irving looks pretty normal and non-pervy in pictures, but this book is chock-full of uncomfortable sex in almost every way sex can be uncomfortable. It's kind of hilarious to me to flip back to the author's picture and think of what is swirling around in that brain of his to cause that smirky smile. (Spoiler: it's bear sex.)

  • Fee
    2019-04-23 09:56

    Update 2017: I'm bad with names, I really am. I can't remember the names of people I met, of my colleagues or politicians. But nearly two years have passed since I read this book and I still remember all of them: Frank, Franny, John, Lilly and Egg! I'm currently reading The Cider House Rules and that just reminded me, how much I loved The Hotel New Hampshire. :-)Review 2016This was one of the most emotional and therefore beautiful books i’ve read so far. The characters were all so well elaborated. Their actings, feelings and dialogues seemed so real. While reading, i somehow felt everything they felt: I dreamed with Win, i had a strong will as Lily, i was confused as Frank, i cried for Egg, i hated Ernst and i loved Franny way to much…Although a lot of bad things happened, it was a very positive story. I loved how the author focused on the strengths of the characters and saw the good in every protagonist. Nobody was condemned for their dreams and wishes, their thoughts and their mistakes as long as they didn’t hurt somebody else.Moreover the writing-style was beautiful as well. Nothing was sugarcoated and everything was described refreshingly explicit.

  • Trudi
    2019-04-10 06:56

    First line fever: The summer my father bought the bear, none of us was born - we weren't even conceived: not Frank, the oldest; not Fanny, the loudest; not me, the next; and not the youngest of us, Lilly and Egg.

  • Marie Lahtinen
    2019-04-03 07:16

    Disappointment. The name was promising, the author was promising.. But it took me more than one week to read it :(

  • Chana
    2019-04-01 09:13

    It is hard to choose a rating for this book as there were things I really liked about it and things that really turned my stomach. "Like" doesn't really cut it as a rating but, well there you go.I love the eccentric characters and the quirky, laugh-out-loud dialogue. As I noted when I read A Widow for One year, Mr. Irving is a very fine writer, better than most; however, as I also noted before, he comes across as sexually obsessed and twisted, certainly he and I are not sharing the same "family values", at least in regards to matters of intimacy. This doesn't really express how abhorrent some of his scenes are. In some ways I felt he had things in common with his terrorist/anarchist/pornographer character. Some of his scenes feel like a violation, a rape of the reader and a deliberate attempt to degrade, to my mind anyway.Despite this author's amazing talent in writing I still thought some of the scenes were stupid, especially the "bear in heat" scene. That struck me as a failure in writing, both as a revenge or an absurdity, as it was neither satisfying or funny. I also didn't like how the book ends for Lilly, it seemed like a cheap ending, a cheat by the author almost. I felt Mr. Irving could have done better by her, but maybe he was making a point, "posing" her in imitations of another famous writer.What I liked best about the book was the dialogue and the characterization, and how imaginative Mr. Irving is. I also liked the relationship between John and his father and grandfather, and how John helps his father with the fulfillment of his dream after they come back from Europe. He writes with an amazing sense of the absurd and this is what kept me reading.

  • Rosalba
    2019-03-31 09:57

    "L'estate in cui mio padre comprò l'orso, nessuno di noi era ancora nato."Dopo aver letto “il mondo secondo Garp” ed esserne rimasta rapita, ho pensato - non senza un po' di tristezza - che nel leggere il successivo romanzo di Irving non avrei più provato le stesse intense emozioni. E invece l'Hotel (dovrei dire gli hotels) mi ha letteralmente coinvolta. Tutti i personaggi che compongono la numerosa e stramba famiglia Berry, e quelli che gli ruotano attorno, ognuno nel proprio ruolo, hanno lasciano un segno indelebile, come pure l'orso State o'Maine, l'orsa semi-umana Susie e il puzzolente cane Sorrow. Sono tutti miei amici adesso, sono la famiglia che mi sarebbe piaciuto avere, e li porto tutti con me.

  • ♥ Marlene♥
    2019-04-05 03:15

    Read this many years even though back then it was so different than the books I'd normally read I kept on reading because the writing was so good.Want to read another of his books.Read date is a guess.

  • Natalie Wilhelm
    2019-04-16 02:06

    I read 'The Hotel New Hamsphire' a over a decade ago. I just remember being shocked about the incestuous line in the story. Thinking, "This is ruining this! Why does John Irving always do this? Completely charming characters, interesting storyline, and then the sickness. It's always in there. The dysfunction. The immoral. I know it's a part of the real world, and I don't consider myself a prude, I just don't always want to fill my head with it. The "great story" is far enough away now (I read it in college) that presently I cannot remember if it was good enough to read despite the more messed up portions of his writing. Right now, I am feeling like this in general about his stories. Although I must admit I remember feeling distinctly like I just wasn't going to be able to handle it if Owen Meany died (and really crying, maybe even sobbing), or in general when any of the books ended, I felt a little sick that these rich, lovable characters weren't going to continually be in my life. I obviously loved his work on some level, because I read 3-4 of his novels in quick succession. I just wish he left the weird incestuous and inappropriate older women/ younger men sexual relations out of his books. I truly feel it wouldn't weaken the storyline. It wouldn't make him less a writer. But I suppose that is a part of him, part you have to accept. Maybe he is working thorough personal stuff. I doubt it, because he never seems to present it with any moral implications, it's just 'what it is' with him. He is an amazing, captivating story-teller. So reader beware. Or just make your own choice.