Tuesday, January 22, 2019

The Paragon Hotel by Lyndsay Faye

The Paragon Hotel. Lyndsay Faye. Penguin Publishing Group. Copyright January 2019. pb, 432 pp.; ISBN: 9780735210752.

Fasten your seatbelt and get ready for a wild ride into the times of Prohibition – from the jazz-filled clubs of Harlem to Portland, Oregon’s Paragon Hotel.  The streets of Harlem are a mix of Negro music and hoodlums vying for supremacy of territory.  When “Nobody” Alice James arrives at the Paragon Hotel, it’s with the help of the black Pullman porter, Max.  He’s practically carrying her as she’s got a very bad bullet wound in her gut.  This hotel is unique as Oregon has laws and visceral hatred for all people of color.  The KKK rules supreme although they make it sound like a genial social club. 

Slowly but surely Alice meets the residents of this African-American hotel. There’s Blossom, a dramatic young lady with a sweet, sultry voice that charms everyone in her path.  There’s a secret relationship she has with a man known as Dr. Perkins who treats Blossom for a secret condition.  Then we meet several other quirky characters who are ultra-dramatic but as endearing as the main characters.  They all are living in the Paragon Hotel in fear.  Alice James as “Nobody” spares everyone initially from the hoodlum atmosphere in Harlem and doesn’t share her total story until well into the novel.  That’s okay as there are plenty of disputes, dancing, drinking, costuming, etc. to totally rivet the reader to rapidly flipping pages while frantically reading.

Each of these characters may be said to have hearts of gold, with cords of compassion and grit that protects, defends, exalts and empathizes with each other when things get tough.  No spoilers here!

The huge question concerning everyone is “Where is Davy?”  Davy is a young African-American boy, somehow associated with Blossom DuBois, who has disappeared.  Some are frantic about finding him but if one carefully observes the passing days, one notices that not everyone is searching as if it were a matter of life and death.  The answer to these questions will provide an altogether unexpected solution to many problems – one that will move readers to tears!!!

The Paragon Hotel is a stunning historical novel that is also a mystery, romance, and thriller that involves every color, class, religion of Prohibition era.  You will revel in all of the saints and sinners herein!  This is one very talented writer that will make you want to read her former novels and hope that she will continue to create new stories that thrill the mind, heart and soul!  Highly recommended – stunning in fact!

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