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The Paragon Hotel by Lyndsay Faye

Friday, June 14, 2019
The new and exciting historial thriller by Lyndsay Faye, author of Edgar-nominated Jane Steele and Gods of Gotham, which follows Alice “Nobody” from Prohibition-era Harlem to Portland’s the Paragon Hotel.

The year is 1921, and “Nobody” Alice James is on a cross-country train, carrying a bullet wound and fleeing for her life following an illicit drug and liquor deal gone horribly wrong. Desperate to get as far away as possible from New York City and those who want her dead, she has her sights set on Oregon: a distant frontier that seems the end of the line.

She befriends Max, a black Pullman porter who reminds her achingly of Harlem, who leads Alice to the Paragon Hotel upon arrival in Portland. Her unlikely sanctuary turns out to be the only all-black hotel in the city, and its lodgers seem unduly terrified of a white woman on the premises. But as she meets the churlish Dr. Pendleton, the stately Mavereen, and the unforgettable club chanteuse Blossom Fontaine, she begins to understand the reason for their dread. The Ku Klux Klan has arrived in Portland in fearful numbers–burning crosses, inciting violence, electing officials, and brutalizing blacks. And only Alice, along with her new “family” of Paragon residents, are willing to search for a missing mulatto child who has mysteriously vanished into the Oregon woods.

Why was “Nobody” Alice James forced to escape Harlem? Why do the Paragon’s denizens live in fear–and what other sins are they hiding? Where did the orphaned child who went missing from the hotel, Davy Lee, come from in the first place? And, perhaps most important, why does Blossom DuBois seem to be at the very center of this tangled web?

Goodreads Summary

This book took me back to the 1920's Prohibition era. I felt immersed in our country's history from the first page until the intriguing ending. Faye has a way of crafting her diction and her characters' scenery so that the reader can easily picture each vivid event. This book contains a multitude of difficult subjects from racism, to prejudice, to violence, segregation, etc and handles them delicately and effectively. I feel like I know so much more about Harlem, New York and the importance of this time. Somehow, the book spanned America from New York to Oregon. I could tell that the author did extensive research prior to typing this book; I appreciated the many different perspectives and how they added different dimensions to already difficult subject matter. 

This book centered around two strong female characters who adapted to nearly every situation life threw at them. They worked hard and stuck to their ideals. It was easy to root for them and understand their belief systems. Alice/Nobody and Blossom took an already fantastic book to the next level. They added humor to a darker dialogue and undertone. The author took the time to extensively explore their characters and how they fit into (and don't fit into) this time. I spent time reading this book and even went back to reread certain passages I found especially crucial. This is a wonderful read for any historical fan or someone willing to read a fictitious work on an integral part in history.

5 Stars

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