Queenie Malone’s Paradise Hotel – Ruth Hogan

The new novel from Ruth Hogan, the bestselling author of The Keeper of Lost Things and The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes – an uplifting novel of mothers and daughters, families and secrets and the astonishing power of friendship.

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.

Many years later, 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 …

Mothers and daughters … their story can be complicated … but it can also turn out to have a happy ending.

About Ruth HoganI was born in the house where my parents still live in Bedford: my sister was so pleased to have a sibling that she threw a thrupenny bit at me. As a child I read everything I could lay my hands on: The Moomintrolls, A Hundred Million Francs, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, the back of cereal packets and gravestones. I was mad about dogs and horses, but didn’t like daddy-long-legs or sugar in my tea.

I studied English and Drama at Goldsmiths College which was brilliant, but then I came home and got a ‘proper’ job. I worked for ten years in a senior local government position (I was definitely a square peg in a round hole, but it paid the bills and mortgage) before a car accident left me unable to work full-time and convinced me to start writing seriously. It was going well, but then in 2012 I got cancer, which was bloody inconvenient but precipitated an exciting hair journey from bald to a peroxide blonde Annie Lennox crop. When chemo kept me up all night I passed the time writing and the eventual result was The Keeper of Lost Things.

I live in a chaotic Victorian house with an assortment of rescue dogs and my long-suffering partner (who has very recently become my husband – so I can’t be that bad!) I am a magpie, always collecting treasures, and a huge John Betjeman fan. My favourite word is ‘antimacassar’ and I still like reading gravestones.

My Review:  I absolutely loved The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes and The Keeper of Lost Things so when I needed to chose a new audio book and saw that Queenie Malone was available to download it was a very simple decision and a great re-introduction to audio books.

Firstly the narrator is simply WONDERFUL, I was transported immediately into Tilly’s world and it was almost impossible to take off my headphones from the opening chapter to the last words.

This charming, warm and moving tale of the complexity of Tilly’s relationship with her mother Grace, the rediscovery of her past and coming to terms with her childhood kept me riveted.

There were several laugh out loud moments when “Young Tilly” recounts her upbringing and her wonderful observational humour was a joy to hear.  Listening to “Adult Tilda” deal with her mother’s death and come to terms with her grief, face her past and deal with her muddled memories was equally heartbreaking and heartwarming in places.

With a cast of such colourful and vibrant characters I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending Queenie Malone’s Paradise Hotel to anyone who loves a character driven story.  I shall be avoiding Bermondsey from now on.

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