by David Fountain
Creating the small Wellington boutique, Hotel Oriental, around and through which all of the characters’ stories are told, was such a wonderful way to construct this book. Setting up the main players in Roger and Bethany with their infectious curiosity is ingenious. It builds the drama of some of the tales and delivers the humour in others.
Another constant throughout is the talented hotel chef, Rene who, despite being mainly behind the kitchen door, helps to complete a very real picture indeed and I found myself feeling that I too was a guest in Hotel Oriental, such was the atmosphere that formed around me as I read. Perhaps watching a drama unfold from my table in the dining room as I ate breakfast or sharing in the conversation at the reception desk with the next influx of guests. This was cleverly achieved without being overly descriptive and allowed me to conjure up my own idea of what the hotel and its surrounds might look like.
From overseas students supplementing their incomes, to a secretive orchestral conductor, vigilante justice meted out by a sub-group of Masons, to a confusion over the ownership of a beautiful jade-handled hairbrush, from love stories to intrigue and even murder there is much to keep the reader’s attention. Despite this variety, the style is even and Roger and Bethany are always on hand to ensure that we never stray very far from the door of the hotel.
When we do leave the comfort of Hotel Oriental, we might learn of poachers who help make Rene’s menu so mouth-watering, or the life of the ex-owner of the lovely old house that became the hotel, or even the love that draws couples together despite time and distance.
Although I found the epilogue did not detract from anything preceding it, I would have been just as satisfied if the stories had been left as they had ended in their respective chapters. It might have been nice to have been left to imagine what followed on from some of these marvellous tales but, that said it did close the book tidily. I do enjoy a believable plotline and well-drawn characters to guide the way and this delivered both. I may even book in for my next holiday….
Author: David Fountain
Publisher: Fountainworks Ltd
ISBN: 9780473415471; EISBN 9780473415488 (ebook kindle amazon)
RRP: $34.95 NZD
Available: Paperback: Unity Booksellers, Wgton; National Library Store Wgton; Bruce McKenzie Books Palmerston Nth. Ebook @AmazonKindle