I adored Ruth Hogan’s last book, The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes, which was one of my favourite reads last year. You can read my review here. So I was over the moon when a parcel from publishers Two Roads arrived unexpectedly containing her latest novel. Like the author’s two previous novels, it has such a beautiful cover and the story inside was beautiful and moving too.
This is the story of Tilly and her fraught relationship with her mother. We come to know Tilly at two pivotal points in her life. Firstly, we meet her when she is only six and her beloved father has moved away from home to work. Her mother clearly has some kind of health issue and young Tilly is often left to fend for and amuse herself. We also meet Tilly as an adult, now known at Tilda, when she goes to clear her mother’s flat following her death. Having been sent away from her beloved Queenie’s Paradise Hotel to a boarding school she hated, her relationship with her mother has always been distant. The discovery of her mother’s diaries though, may help Tilda unlock the secrets of the past.
Ruth Hogan writes about relationships so brilliantly. In this book she really dissects the relationship between mother and daughter. Tilly’s mother was not a character it was easy to warm to and it is not until well into the novel that you realise why she behaved as she did. I loved the young Tilly and all her misheard and misunderstood phrases. Ruth Hogan captured the child’s voice and thoughts so well, such as when she misheard phrases from hymns and prayers. The way the author linked the past and the present was so clever. For example, Tilda finds the key she needs to open a locked box and then young Tilly is using a different key to unlock her father’s shed. Small details like this made the story move smoothly between the time periods.
There is a varied cast of supporting characters who add so much to the story: Queenie, Joseph Geronimo, Daniel, Miss Dane, Aubrey and Austen. The latter two make only a brief appearance but I immediately liked them. All the characters help and encourage Tilda to face up to her past and, most importantly, to look to her future. There is a supernatural element to the story too, something which Tilly had in common with her father. She is not haunted by the ghosts of the past though. Instead she finds them a comfort.
Queenie Malone’s Paradise Hotel is a beautifully written book and a moving exploration of relationships, not just between mother and daughter but also between friends. It is full of charming characters and the town of Brighton seems a vibrant character in itself. Once again, Ruth Hogan has crafted a poignant and compelling novel.
My grateful thanks to the publishers Two Roads books for sending me a review copy of this book. It is available now in hardback and as an ebook. The paperback edition will follow in July. You should be able to buy or order a copy from your usual book retailer or if you would like to buy a Kindle copy, you can do that here: Queenie Malone
From the back of 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.
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 the author
Author photo and biography from Amazon
Hello dear readers, please allow me to introduce myself…
I was brought up in a house full of books, and grew up with an unsurprising passion for reading and writing. I also loved dogs and ponies, seaside piers, snow globes and cemeteries. So of course, I was going to be a vet, show jumper, Eskimo or gravedigger.
Or maybe a writer…
I studied English and Drama at Goldsmiths College, University of London where I hennaed my hair, wore dungarees and generally had an amazing time. And then I got a proper job. For ten years I had a successful if uninspiring career in local government before a car accident left me unable to work full-time and was the kick up the butt I needed to start writing seriously.
It was all 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, my first novel, which was published in January 2017, and has now been selected as a Richard and Judy Book Club pick.
My second novel, THE WISDOM OF SALLY RED SHOES, published in May 2018 and you can order the book now.
I live in a chaotic Victorian house with an assortment of rescue dogs and my long-suffering husband. I am a magpie; always collecting treasures (or ‘junk’ depending on your point of view) and a huge John Betjeman fan.
My favourite word is ‘antimacassar’ and I still like reading gravestones.