I’ve long been a fan of Joyce Maynard. She has written some powerful fiction over the years. Having said that, I will say I think THE BIRD HOTEL is her best novel yet.
Maynard knows the shock value of a great first sentence. She has nailed it here with “I was twenty-seven years old when I decided to jump off the Golden Gate Bridge”. Yes indeedy, count me all-in.
After a riveting beginning, Maynard goes back in time to when Irene was actually Joan. One day her mother is involved in a national tragedy and she and her grandmother are on the run with changed names. What a start.
Back and forth in time, Maynard gives us snippets of Irene’s early life and we eventually learn what caused the dramatic change in her life.
I loved the travels that take Irene from The United States, through Mexico, and coming to land in a small village in Guatemala. What a wild ride. I enjoyed every moment of it. The hotel Irene stays at is a beautiful but crumbling old building at the base of a volcano and facing a huge lake. Gardens needing attention but with great potential. Birdsong in the air. And an owner who has become somewhat of a recluse over the years. Irene is the only person staying at the small hotel. Quite an eerie feeling.
Told in short, snappy chapters, THE BIRD HOTEL is just delightful. It’s filled with so many twists and turns that I could not see where the story was going to end. Good. Dealing with drought, then floods, a horrendous cyclone, and a volcanic eruption, you ask yourself what else can happen? Prepare yourself.
One of the most resilient characters I’ve come across in years, Irene must make her way in this new world. She arrived with nothing but the clothes on her back. But now this new, strange world looms large in front of her. She meets a host of unique and quirky characters that totally make the story swell and become even more of a real page-turner.
Joyce Maynard has written dozens of books and hundreds of essays. She’s an amazing writer who just keeps getting better. Joyce lives part of the year in a small village in Guatemala. She hosts classes for writers and they get to stay on the gorgeous grounds of her home.
I found it totally fascinating that Joyce was close to J.D. Salinger as a young girl. Very Close. He definitely saw the wonderful potential she had from a young age.
My physical review copy arrived from the nice publishing people at Skyhorse Publishing Company in exchange for an honest review. This is one of those colorful novels I will reread again and again. I loved it!