Hotel of Saints by Ursula Hegi― Book Review
This book of short stories takes you different places such as Germany, Mexico, and the United States. The variety of characters and settings is commendable. From parents to children, people happy in love with those giving up on life, there’s a story for everyone. We find characters in the vivid mix of their lives finding relevance in seemingly ordinary events that have a profound impact on the characters and the readers as well.
Not to spoil anything, but a theme I noticed which was prevalent in all short stories was how each story revolves around the characters letting go of a particular memory or emotion that has haunted them. Looking at some of the discussion polls I have come to learn that the short stories ‘Freteroid’ and ‘For their own survival’ may be interlinked and although I did not notice that myself, looking back now I think it is quite amazing and makes me wonder if I re-read the book, would I find other stories that are connected???
What I found especially intriguing about her work was the simplicity of language and how gracefully the stories unfold. And although you want to learn more about the lives of the characters and what happens to them after; from among the 11 short stories, none seemed to have concluded as an open-ended trope. My personal favorite was the ‘Hotel of saints’ short story. The story of Basil the dog is one that had me ugly crying. What Hegi achieves is a sort of a narrative study of different types of relationships and none anything other than ordinary but written with mesmerizing detail.
Indeed, this book will take you a while to finish because each short story plays out differently and a lot can be packed into 20 pages. The stories may hit too close to home which is another reason why you might want to read this book slowly and maybe even take a break from it to read something else. The whole idea of a newly widowed woman re-decorating and refurbishing a hotel where each room meets the aesthetic of a saint is amazing and although a bit eery, I would have loved visiting that hotel in real life.
Would I recommend reading the Hotel of Saints?
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