Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford (Ballantine, 2009), 320 pages
When Henry Lee sees the crowd outside the Panama Hotel, the long-boarded-up former gateway to Seattle’s Nihonmachi, he fights his way to the front to see what’s happening. The new owner, in front of reporters’ cameras, hauls out chests of treasures that Japanese families stored there when they were interned after the attack on Pearl Harbor. And one of the first things displayed? A parasol with a koi on it, just like the one his friend, Keiko, had when he was 12 …
The story is told in two parts, moving with ease back and forth between 1942 and 1986. I’ve been thinking for days, and I haven’t really come up with anything I dislike about this book. I loved the story, the setting, the characters, the jazz and the flowers. The story immediately drew me in.
I had heard good things about this book, and it lived up to my expectations; I’d been wanting to read it for nearly a year before I actually did! This book made me happy.
As much as I really love this book, though, I’m afraid it won’t stick with me forever. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but other things have started overshadowing it already. This makes me sad. The writing was serviceable — actually, that’s probably a bit unfair. It was certainly far from bad, but it didn’t blow me away, either.
I loved delving more deeply into the Japanese internment, something I haven’t read enough about.
Hopefully I’ll have a brief interview with Ford here tomorrow (Monday).
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The publisher has offered 1 extra copy of the book (trade paperback) as a giveaway (U.S./Canada only) to one of my readers! Comment here about the book (or my review) or on the interview for a chance to win.
The giveaway will end next Monday, January 25, when I’ll randomly select a winner.
I received this book from the publisher, as part of the TLC book tour. I am an Amazon Associate and receive a small commission on sales through my affiliate links.
Edited to add: This giveaway is now closed, a winner has been chosen.