Hardcover: 323 pages
Publisher: Bantam Press (13 Oct 2011)
Swiss-born Hugues Martin has worked for the world’s most prestigious hotels, so when he purchases a small, run-down place in New York, everyone thinks he must be crazy! He alone sees it for the rough diamond it is, transforming it into a beautiful boutique hotel of impeccable elegance, run with the precision and attention to detail he learnt through his hotelier training in Europe.
The Hotel Vendôme soon becomes renowned for its unparalleled service, and is the ideal New York refuge for the rich and famous, as well as a perfect home for Hugues’ beautiful wife and their young daughter. But when his wife tires of his obsession for the hotel, she walks out on him for a notorious rock star, leaving Hugues a single parent to four-year-old Heloise.
And so the kind hotel staff quickly embrace the little girl, becoming Heloise’s family and she has a happy upbringing, adored by the fascinating milieu of high-profile guests. Hugues’ commitment to his work has heavily influenced his daughter, so he is delighted when she decides she wants to follow in his footsteps – hotelier training in Switzerland.
I enjoyed this, book for the reason being that I realised that some things in a relationship are non-negotiable such as personality and the nature of the person, warts and all, as I think people inherently don’t change, and why should they if for all intents and purposes they are generous and accommodating in spirit, neither being good nor bad as a person should come into a potential sound and solid relationship, for only God the Almighty can judge of this, although people in relationships of whatever kind, adapt to situations such as not leaving the cap off the toothpaste, which isn’t the same thing when involved in complex patterned relationships where things aren’t cut and dried. For example, Heloise trip to Paris on her own, she realised that she grew as a person in finding independence and homing level, but what hadn’t changed was her personality of curiosity and fortitude about the world and those around her.
The only drawback of this book regarding the character of Heloise was this fortitude of hers wasn’t developed further. For when she heard of her father’s relationship with a serious long-term girlfriend, the author was more concerned about his point of view of the daughter’s reaction, rather than how the daughter’s strength of character saw her through this period, other than the sulking and moodiness that she displayed to the father and his girlfriend and the turn around change of heart was too sudden in the book to catch the depth required for such a huge change in all their lives and I think this alternate point of view would have balanced out the book better for it was supposed to be about the father and daughter relationship, but to the end it became the father and his girlfriend relationship development. Therefore, I really wished that the author had continued in the same vein as which she started in focus regarding a single father raising a daughter until she matured into adulthood.
What else I liked about the book was the work ethic of those that were mentioned with the plot, but the ageist discrimination that was played out among the choice of not only girlfriends be it the father’s but also how employees albeit freelancers where chosen for work regardless of what the preferences for the work entailed, and this ageist discrimination did not set well with me, because throughout the book, the father kept on having the outlook of value and quality, but yet only viewed it through rose tinted glasses pertaining to what was in his own youthful past, and not the prescript of refinement which for a hotel base of Parisian hospitality this is one of the key qualities that is sustained in the hotelier ethos, even historically, as well as what is there in contemporary attitudes.
Although he was touched. “And I want a better life for you than working eighteen hour days for the rest of your life. You just want that now because its all you’ve ever known.” The hotel was familiar to her, but he wanted her to have a saner life than his own.
“No, I want it because I just saw every great hotel in Paris, and I love what you’ve done with the Vendome. Maybe together we can make it even better. I love living at the hotel and working here. It’s the only life I ever wanted.” As she said it, he felt acutely guilty for not getting for not getting her out of the hotel more often. He didn’t want her adult world confined to a small hotel on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. He spent the rest of the drive into the city trying to convince her she was wrong.
“Why are you saying that?” she questioned him finally. “Don’t you like what you do, Papa?”
“I love it for myself but not for you. I want you to have so much more.” And then as he said it, he heard himself saying all the same things his parents had said to him thirty years before. He was giving her all the same reasons they had given him, wanting him to be a banker or a doctor or a lawyer. They had done everything to dissuade him from the École Hôtelière, just as he looked at her and realized that she had to make her own choices, and if this was what she loved and wanted to do with her life, he had no right to stand in her way and dissuade her.
“I don’t want you giving up your life for a hotel,” he said sadly. “I want you to have kids and a husband and a bigger life than mine.”
“Are you unhappy at the hotel?” she asked, as she watched him, and he shook his head.
“No, I love it,” he said honestly. He had found his niche early on, no matter what his parents though about it.
“Then why won’t you let me do what I love? I’ve loved being in the hotel all my life. There’s nothing I could ever love doing more than that. It’s what you taught me and what I want to teach my children one day, to pass it on.”
Hotel by Arthur Hailey published by Doubleday in 1965 first edition.