Heartbreak Hotel by Deborah Moggach
I came to this book in a round-about way. I was looking for something with a Christmas theme to read in December and came across one called Twin Beds - Christmas at the Heartbreak Hotel. The review said it was a sequel to this one but, not sure I wanted to commit to two of them, I did a bit more checking to see if they were worth the time/cash investment. What I discovered is that Deborah Moggach also wrote The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel! I haven't read that book but the movie made from it is one of my favourites, mainly because of it's wonderful mix of unique and unforgettable characters. I figured I couldn't go too far wrong with such an author so I took the plunge. I have yet to read the Christmas one, but Heartbreak Hotel was worth it.
It's about a retired actor who inherits an aging B&B and decides to keep it, beginning a new career as inn-keeper in these later years of his life. Between his large family of ex-wives and children, and the guests who come either to escape their real lives or to take advantage of the various courses he offers, there is quite a lengthy list of characters that I managed to keep sorted by writing their names and relationships on an index card.
I loved the setting, a quiet little town in Wales described so becomingly by the author that you'll want to move there immediately you've finished the book. But it's the characters that bring life to this book. They are all so very real with flaws and quirks that make them lovable and irritating and completely believable. The story line is a bit similar to The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, but only in that both are about run down hotels full of interesting people. The differences are vast and never let you to feel as if you've read this story before.
The language is a bit grittier than I like but it was only now and then, so not too terribly bad. I liked it and am quite looking forward to the Christmas one, which I will try not to read till the end of the year.