About the book
Tilly was a bright, outgoing little girl who liked playing with ghosts and matches. She loved fizzy drinks, swear words, fish fingers and Catholic churches, but most of all she loved living in Brighton in Queenie Malone’s magnificent Paradise Hotel with its endearing and loving family of misfits – staff and guests alike. But Tilly’s childhood was shattered when her mother sent her away from the only home she’d ever loved to boarding school with little explanation and no warning.
Now, Tilda has grown into an independent woman still damaged by her mother’s unaccountable cruelty. Wary of people, her only friend is her dog, Eli. But when her mother dies, Tilda goes back to Brighton and with the help of her beloved Queenie sets about unravelling the mystery of her exile from The Paradise Hotel, only to discover that her mother was not the woman she thought she knew at all ..
What I thought
It’s difficult to know where to start with this review. If you’d asked me half way through the book what I thought I’d say I don’t like it, it’s not my kind of book. Had I bought the book and not chosen to request an ARC from the publisher via Netgalley, I quite possibly might have given up at 50% of the way through and if I’m totally honest it didn’t really completely capture my interest until I was about 75% of the way through. Having said that, the last part of the book was brilliant, I loved the last bit, bringing the whole story to a very poignant ending. I would have missed out on so much had I given up on it.
And that’s the key, taking to a book is a very personal thing, as has often been said before, it would be a boring world of we all liked and disliked the same things. I read other reviews and every reader seemed to love it. So why didn’t I like it? Most likely my lack of patience, wondering at what point the Paradise Hotel was ever going to make itself known and wondering when Tilly might end up at the Boarding school that prevented me from enjoying it sooner. However, good things come to those who wait and eventually all is revealed, but the build up and the background is equally important in the grand scheme of things.
The author’s writing is so good at creating atmosphere. I think this is why I didn’t really like the first half. I felt it was dark and depressing, a black cloud of disappointment, grief and a desire for life to be different hung over the story for a good part of it. The scene was set well too, I got the impression from many clues that Tilly’s childhood spanned over the late 60’s to early 70’s. I don’t recall any era’s being specifically mentioned but Bob Monkeyhouse (haha, that made me giggle) at the London Palladium and other things helped to set the time period.
Things lightened considerably once Tilly and her Mum took up residence in the Paradise Hotel. They were both so happy and settled there and it showed. I liked all the characters in this part of the story and Tilly was funny. Again the author does a brilliant job of capturing how a 7 year old thinks, how they get names wrong and see everything very much in black and white. They accept everything as it’s presented and haven’t developed any judgemental traits. Tilly often reminded me of my 5 year old grand-daughter.
As time moved on and I came to the last part I really started to enjoy the book. There was much more dialogue, more characters and everything was gradually revealed, almost like getting to the last pieces of a particularly difficult jigsaw and finally seeing where those elusive pieces fit in.
In the end I really enjoyed it and am so glad I stuck with it.
♥ Happy Reading ♥
The Kindle and hardback edition of this book are due out on 7th February 2019 with a paperback due to be published later in the year on 5 September 2019. They are all available to pre-order now on Amazon
Thank you to John Murray Press Two Roads via Netgalley for this ARC in return for an honest review.