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The Paragon Hotel

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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 hor 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?

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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 hor 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?

30 review for The Paragon Hotel

  1. 4 out of 5

    Meredith

    Superbly written historical novel exploring racism, violence, and extremist groups in America in the 1920's. While this novel takes place in the past, its subject matter resonates in the current moment. Alice James has a knack for blending in. She can become part of the background, enabling her to go unnoticed and listen in on very important conversations. She also can stand out, if need be. She can be anyone or no one. Her nickname, Nobody, suits her perfectly. In the early 1900’s in Harlem, she Superbly written historical novel exploring racism, violence, and extremist groups in America in the 1920's. While this novel takes place in the past, its subject matter resonates in the current moment. Alice James has a knack for blending in. She can become part of the background, enabling her to go unnoticed and listen in on very important conversations. She also can stand out, if need be. She can be anyone or no one. Her nickname, Nobody, suits her perfectly. In the early 1900’s in Harlem, she uses her unique abilities to become an asset for the Mafia. Portland, Oregon 1922. The Paragon Hotel--an all-black hotel in a state being infiltrated by the KKK. Racial tensions are high, especially since it was not legal for black people to reside in Oregon during this time period. A white traveler with a bullet wound is brought in to recover. A little boy goes missing. Tension builds, the KKK makes their presence known in a brutal and tragic way. I absolutely loved The Paragon Hotel. It’s well-written and the characters are multidimensional. I found Nobody and Blossom’s characters to be especially fascinating. Nobody is a dynamic narrator--her voice is strong and drew me in. I was interested in both her past and present and was dying to know her deep dark secrets. The hotel also plays a dominant role--the different rooms not only embody the different characters and personas, but also they hide the secrets of the guests, keep them somewhat safe, but also can expose them to harm. “Its dozens of windows with its hundreds of guests, all of them hiding something. All of them fighting for something. All of them frightened of something” While The Paragon Hotel is primarily about inequality and power struggles, the novel is also about friendships that defy color lines and gender norms. This is a thought-provoking read about racism, gender norms, and power dynamics. While it should highlight how far America has come, in the current moment it serves as a reminder of how America’s progress has devolved. It's clear Faye did her research--I learned a lot from reading this, as I had no idea about Oregon’s murky past. I loved the message of The Paragon Hotel and the ending. There are some horrifying moments, but also some beautiful ones. “It’s not a book. This was never a book. This is a love letter.” I received an ARC of this book from Edelweiss and G.P. Putnam’s Sons in exchange for an honest review.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Navidad Thélamour

    Simply exquisite! Seriously -- go out and get this book! :) FOLLOW ME HERE: The Navi Review Blog | Twitter | Instagram

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kelly (and the Book Boar)

    Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/ You know what comment I hear a lot from strangers? “You should use more .gifs in your reviews. They are awesome and definitely show what an intelligent person you are.” Okay, y’all know that’s totally untrue, but I’m still pretty much going to only use .gifs to explain this book because I’m wording even less well than usual today. I had never even heard of The Paragon Hotel until my friend SUSAN used the GR recommend feature to tell me Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/ You know what comment I hear a lot from strangers? “You should use more .gifs in your reviews. They are awesome and definitely show what an intelligent person you are.” Okay, y’all know that’s totally untrue, but I’m still pretty much going to only use .gifs to explain this book because I’m wording even less well than usual today. I had never even heard of The Paragon Hotel until my friend SUSAN used the GR recommend feature to tell me about it and because SUSAN never bookpushes – like EVER – despite us having very similar tastes, I decided I should listen to her and immediately put myself on the library wait list. Okay, let’s get on with the .giffery. Our story here is about Alice (a/k/a “Nobody”) and takes place in 1921. Born and bred in Harlem to a (literal) whore mother, Alice was quite the . . . . Due to some unfortunate circumstances . . . . Alice finds herself on a train bound for a destination as far as she can possibly get from Harlem . . . . Much like Blanche DuBois, Alice must rely on the kindness of a stranger and ends up at the Paragon Hotel . . . . “The Paragon opened in nineteen-oh-six, and is full to bursting of decent citizens and lunatic nomads.” Like my new girlfriend . . . . . And also happens to dabble a bit in . . . . . Unfortunately for the all-black residents, their fine city has not yet embraced the moniker . . . . In fact, it’s quite the opposite where it is actually on the books as illegal for any person of color to reside in their fair city at all, leading to a rise in . . . . . Oh, and there’s also a missing kid, but seriously with all that other stuff going on who the eff even cares about him, right? If you’re an idiot like me and tell yourself things like “but I don’t really liiiiiiike historical fiction” (first let me tell you that your brain is probably lying because A LOT of stuff falls into that category), this one might be the exception. Same goes for those of you who aren’t fans of dialogue-driven story progression. If the dialogue is as sharply written as it is here, you won’t be able to imagine it any other way. All the Stars.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Martie Nees Record

    My Ratings: 3.5 out of 5 stars Genre: Historical Fiction Mystery Publisher: PENGUIN GROUP Putmam Pub. Date: January 8, 2019 In a nutshell, this novel is about racism and the American underworld in the early twentieth century. The novel begins in 1921, during the time of America’s Prohibition. A young white female protagonist is on a train out of Harlem running to escape her Mafia boss who is displeased with her. She is suffering from an untreated bullet wound. A black male Pullman porter takes pity My Ratings: 3.5 out of 5 stars Genre: Historical Fiction Mystery Publisher: PENGUIN GROUP Putmam Pub. Date: January 8, 2019 In a nutshell, this novel is about racism and the American underworld in the early twentieth century. The novel begins in 1921, during the time of America’s Prohibition. A young white female protagonist is on a train out of Harlem running to escape her Mafia boss who is displeased with her. She is suffering from an untreated bullet wound. A black male Pullman porter takes pity on her and brings her with him to his home in Portland, Oregon, which happens to be in an all-black hotel. The story goes back and forth in chapters and settings from NYC to Oregon. This is a difficult review to write since I had different opinions throughout the novel on whether I did or did not like the book. I appreciate that the alternating settings begin with a real quote from each area’s non-fictional newspapers. Plus, the author has historical endnotes. Good research is always a plus in historical fiction. I liked that the author chose that the scrappy little kid character, who grows up to be a mobster, is a girl rather than a boy. This is unheard of in most mob stories. I got a kick out of learning that at one time Harlem NY had a large Italian population know as Little Italy. As a native New Yorker, I really should have known this. For me, Little Italy is the infamous neighborhood located in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. (I used to push my, now grown, baby in a stroller right there on Mulberry St.) And I thoroughly enjoyed how skillful the author is in immersing the reader in the feel of the era. I was hooked on the visuals and the slang of the times. I was expecting Bogey or Cagney to materialize on any given page. Then the historical fiction morphs into a mystery. Although it is a well-written mystery, it is not needed to enhance the already interesting tale on the happenings of the young woman’s two lives: One in white America and another in black America. Both are filled with police that are as corrupt as the mobsters. Nor was I wild about a couple of twists that seem thrown in for good measure. They are decent twists, but again, not needed. Maybe I just don’t care for the mixing of genres. I also was not pleased that in this book, and recent others is that the theme and characters are pointedly aligned to this current dysfunctional White House administration. I am growing weary of all the new historical novels that make anti-Trump statements without using his name. (And, I am no fan of the 45th American President). In this tale, I read over and over how in the 1920s the KKK expanded into the north because of the hatred against people who deemed not “truly” American. Their motto was “America First.” Sound familiar? I am aware that these historical connections need to be repeated in words to serve as reminders of what can happen when politics run amok. But, after finding this Trump-metaphor linking trend so often I, as a reader and a reviewer, need a breather from political teachable moments in my fiction. After writing down my thoughts on the pros and cons in “The Paragon Hotel,” I discover I am still confused on whether I would recommend the book or not. I guess it depends upon what your expectations are when venturing into the story. I was not expecting a mystery. Hopefully my confusion will help give you a clear picture of what you may like or dislike in the story. I received this Advance Review Copy (ARC) novel from the publisher at no cost in exchange for an honest review. Find all my book reviews at: https://www.goodreads.com/review/list... https://books6259.wordpress.com/ https://twitter.com/NeesRecord https://www.facebook.com/martie.neesr... https://www.amazon.com/gp/profile/amz...

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jenny (Reading Envy)

    The Paragon Hotel is a fictionalized account of the one hotel in Portland that allowed customers of color through the 1930s, and the surrounding racism of the times. (I grew up in Oregon with 4th and 8th grade focused on Oregon history but we never learned about this, however it explains a lot... Even today Portland is 72% white!) I enjoyed the part of the novel set in Portland, but the parallel story set in Harlem seemed less realistic and maybe unnecessary, somewhat clogging the storyline. This The Paragon Hotel is a fictionalized account of the one hotel in Portland that allowed customers of color through the 1930s, and the surrounding racism of the times. (I grew up in Oregon with 4th and 8th grade focused on Oregon history but we never learned about this, however it explains a lot... Even today Portland is 72% white!) I enjoyed the part of the novel set in Portland, but the parallel story set in Harlem seemed less realistic and maybe unnecessary, somewhat clogging the storyline. This is a good read for people who like the flapper jazz era but are looking for a spin on the usual. I had an eARC from the publisher through NetGalley, and the book came out January 8, 2019.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Libby

    ‘The Paragon Hotel’ by Lyndsay Faye is wonderful storytelling, showcased by a unique writing style. Faye’s luminescent prose and memorable characters along with a poignant plot and atmospheric setting create an indelible reading experience. Alice James is born on March 23, 1896, on the very same day that the Raines Law is passed. That law states that no liquor can be sold on Sunday, except in hotels. Alice James, also known as ‘Nobody’ was born and raised in Raines Hotels in New York. Gunshot, A ‘The Paragon Hotel’ by Lyndsay Faye is wonderful storytelling, showcased by a unique writing style. Faye’s luminescent prose and memorable characters along with a poignant plot and atmospheric setting create an indelible reading experience. Alice James is born on March 23, 1896, on the very same day that the Raines Law is passed. That law states that no liquor can be sold on Sunday, except in hotels. Alice James, also known as ‘Nobody’ was born and raised in Raines Hotels in New York. Gunshot, Alice makes her way across the country, befriended, finally, by a black porter, Max, on the Pullman train. Upon arrival in Portland, Oregon, Max delivers Alice to the Paragon Hotel, a hotel for blacks, where she finds treatment for her bullet wounds and safety for a time. How long will she remain safe? Blacks are not welcome in Oregon and the Ku Klux Klan is a force to be reckoned with. I had never considered that blacks would be met with such prejudice in a northern state, but Faye documents this ignorant and chilling bias with newspaper snippets from the time period. Some examples of Faye’s prose: “I think many a trouble begins with love, and it’s important to remember that when life feels like the shit scraped off Death’s boot sole.” “If Max were any other fellow, I’d be terrified enough to dangle out the window like a set of drying stockings by now.” “...both of us finishing our cigarettes while the sky turns vacant and black as any corpse.” “We go through our lives, so many of us, as fractions of ourselves, with all the other puzzle pieces buried where no one can see them. But there’s the paradox, and do forgive me for flights metaphorical--we’re all of us fractured jigsaws, but we’re also the entire picture no matter how far away we walk from what’s hidden.” Faye writes memorable characters, intertwining their physical descriptions with traits of personality. “He wasn’t stronger either--but he was quick as a wasp. He wasn’t handsome--but he owned a striking hatchet face, a straight black hairline without a trace of peak, and a pair of weirdly slanting brows hitching a tent over his stake of a nose. And he was savagely dynamic.” In a few sentences, Faye creates dimension in this character; I not only see him, but I see his energy and because she uses the word, savage, I imagine that he’s scrappy, a survivor. She treats all her characters this thoroughly. The way she physically describes characters is full-fleshed and reveals some of their spirit. The dialogue with which Faye infuses her characters feels lively and true to the times. She uses a lot of 1910s and 20s slang; jake, sap, pal, moll, and it is so unforced as to feel as though she’s channeling these characters. Alice James, our protagonist, age 25, has lived since age 15, under the protection of her guardian, Mauro Salvatici, a mobster type who runs a grand hotel in New York. James is savvy to the ways of the world; even though she’s gunshot, she comes across as full of herself. Alice has learned to play roles in order to get along in life. She has become proficient at putting on masks. Max sees through her as does her jazz singer friend, Blossom. She isn’t able to hide behind her mask; they don't allow her to go unnoticed (become Nobody) or to become someone else. They want to know the real Alice. Alice seems to be in search of her hidden self as well. The search for one’s identity is a predominant theme also echoed in the character of Blossom. I love Blossom! The tone of this novel is gutsy with some defiance in the face of challenging odds.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    Who is Alice James? Why does she reference herself as "Nobody"? What are the circumstances that led to her being on a train bound for Oregon? So begins the tale of Alice James, aka "Nobody", fleeing NYC with a bullet wound festering, on the run from the Mafia. It's 1921, Prohibition has been initiated, Mob violence in Little Italy is rampant and Oregon seems to be a safe distance from those who wish Alice dead. Befriended on the train by Max Burton, the Pullman porter in charge of her cabin, Alic Who is Alice James? Why does she reference herself as "Nobody"? What are the circumstances that led to her being on a train bound for Oregon? So begins the tale of Alice James, aka "Nobody", fleeing NYC with a bullet wound festering, on the run from the Mafia. It's 1921, Prohibition has been initiated, Mob violence in Little Italy is rampant and Oregon seems to be a safe distance from those who wish Alice dead. Befriended on the train by Max Burton, the Pullman porter in charge of her cabin, Alice is taken to the Paragon Hotel, an all black hotel in Portland. Alice is white, but in desperate need of Dr. Pendleton, owner of the hotel, and an accomplished doctor. Alice soon comes to learn of the intolerance Oregon has for African Americans, and the rising influence of the KKK. When a young mulatto boy goes missing, Alice feels compelled to help her newfound friends find the child, leading to disastrous consequences. There were so many layers to this story that made it truly engrossing. It delves into racism, bigotry, violence and mental illness, yet also highlighting friendship and love. A couple of my favorite quotes: "We go through our lives, so many of us, as fractions of ourselves, with all the other puzzle pieces buried where no one can see them. But there's the paradox, and do forgive me for flights metaphorical-we're all of us fractured jigsaws, but we're also the entire picture no matter how far away we walk from what's hidden." "When I've pushed the spinning glass round and the Paragon Hotel spits me out, I turn to look back at it. It's dozens of windows with its hundreds of guests, all of them hiding something. All of them fighting for something. All of them frightened of something. That's the kicker about hotels-they aren't homes, they're more like the paragon of waiting rooms. Unless you're part of the inner circle of this one, and you burrow underneath one another's surfaces, air the cupboards, lift the drapes, and everyone is unhappy, and everyone is both cruel and kind."

  8. 4 out of 5

    Lata

    It's the 1920s, and Alice James, or Nobody, is escaping to Portland when we first meet her, suffering from a bullet wound. She's taken by a porter to the Paragon Hotel, the only hotel in the town that allows African Americans to frequent. She meets a variety of fascinating people who live and work at the hotel. They view her with some suspicion, as she's white and a stranger, and the situation in Portland is somewhat tense, what with the Ku Klux Klan arriving there to cause trouble. With the dis It's the 1920s, and Alice James, or Nobody, is escaping to Portland when we first meet her, suffering from a bullet wound. She's taken by a porter to the Paragon Hotel, the only hotel in the town that allows African Americans to frequent. She meets a variety of fascinating people who live and work at the hotel. They view her with some suspicion, as she's white and a stranger, and the situation in Portland is somewhat tense, what with the Ku Klux Klan arriving there to cause trouble. With the disappearance of a young boy, the adopted son of a flamboyant night club singer, Blossom, tensions rise further, and the inhabitants of the Paragon, along with Nobody, begin a desperate search. I loved this! This book was phenomenal! Lyndsay Faye provides us with historical context for Portland and Prohibition. She also has Nobody narrate this tale, explaining what her childhood and recent past in Harlem, New York City, was like as a gun moll and her less than ethical past, while she contends with the incidents at the Paragon. Nobody's a fabulous character, as is Blossom, whom I fell in love with. The two of them connected immediately, as I did with this book through Nobody's voice. Which is peppered with nifty turns of phrase that sounded authentically 1920s. The phrases added lovely colour to Nobody and her approach to life. Lyndsay Faye's characterization of all the other characters was terrific and there were numerous chunks of this book that I would have highlighted for the wonderful language, and that the superlative narrator of this audiobook, January LaVoye, brought vividly to life. All I really have to add is, this was one of my favourite books this month.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    DNF. Everyone else seems to love this book, so I don't know, maybe I just wasn't in the right mood. But I gave up--the writing style was a bit overdone for me, the dialogue didn't feel real, and I just couldn't work up any interest in the main character or what happened to her. *I received a free ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede

    Set in 1921, Alice "Nobody" James arrives in Portland after a harrowing train ride. Not only has she fled New York, but she's also been shot and now needs a place to hide. Thanks to Max, a black Pullman porter, she finds refuge at the Paragon Hotel. The only problem? This is the only all-black hotel in the city and they are not very keen to have a white woman staying there. But with Max as well as the wonderful club singer, Blossom Fontaine, on her side, Alice stays in the hotel. However, she qu Set in 1921, Alice "Nobody" James arrives in Portland after a harrowing train ride. Not only has she fled New York, but she's also been shot and now needs a place to hide. Thanks to Max, a black Pullman porter, she finds refuge at the Paragon Hotel. The only problem? This is the only all-black hotel in the city and they are not very keen to have a white woman staying there. But with Max as well as the wonderful club singer, Blossom Fontaine, on her side, Alice stays in the hotel. However, she quickly realizes that not everything is peachy in Portland. The Ku Klux Klan has arrived in the city and a child disappears from Paragon Hotel not long after Alice has arrived... READ THE REST OF THE REVIEW OVER AT FRESH FICTION!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    4+ Stars Whip-smart writing and dialogue. Strong female characters. Though this takes place in the early 1900's, the story is as relevant as ever. Highly recommended.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Celia

    Alice James was born in Harlem and eventually runs for her life. Taken off the train in Oregon, the conductor brings her, injured by a bullet, to Portland's Paragon Hotel. Once there her story gets complicated and surprising. We learn why she was shot and why she ran. It is the 1920's and Prohibition is in full swing; racism is prevalent in Portland. Alice is welcomed to the Paragon Hotel to recuperate, even though she is white and the other guests black. She becomes close to Blossom Fontaine, a Alice James was born in Harlem and eventually runs for her life. Taken off the train in Oregon, the conductor brings her, injured by a bullet, to Portland's Paragon Hotel. Once there her story gets complicated and surprising. We learn why she was shot and why she ran. It is the 1920's and Prohibition is in full swing; racism is prevalent in Portland. Alice is welcomed to the Paragon Hotel to recuperate, even though she is white and the other guests black. She becomes close to Blossom Fontaine, a black actress who lives at the Paragon. She meets Davy Lee, a young black boy whom Blossom has rescued from the streets. Alice, Blossom, Davy and Miss Christina go to a carnival and experience the Fun House. While there Davy disappears. A search involving the local police ensues over many days. The Ku Klux Klan is involved as well. This story is told in first person sarcastic. Sarcastic is the voice I think Alice is using. I actually loved Alice's voice. Very unique and engaging. Reminds me of Stephanie Plum's (Janet Evanovich) irreverence. Recommend to any historical fiction lover. There is mystery and intrigue and looking for a missing child. Those of you who love mystery will love this book also. 5 stars

  13. 5 out of 5

    Karen Kay

    I received this from netgalley.com in exchange for a review. "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." And boy-oh-boy, the complicated story goes on from there. Really great book, good writing, fantastic characters. Must read. 4☆

  14. 5 out of 5

    Lashaan Balasingam (Bookidote)

    You can find my review on my blog by clicking here. Sometimes we read stories to escape the gruesome reality that is perpetually mediatized and sometimes we visit these stories to remind us of the lessons learned—or not—during the darker days of the past. While the events in themselves are tragic, it is the similarities that we are able to draw between an era that seems so long ago that is the most appalling. Whether it is only a decade or a century ago, mankind loves to revisit those mistakes an You can find my review on my blog by clicking here. Sometimes we read stories to escape the gruesome reality that is perpetually mediatized and sometimes we visit these stories to remind us of the lessons learned—or not—during the darker days of the past. While the events in themselves are tragic, it is the similarities that we are able to draw between an era that seems so long ago that is the most appalling. Whether it is only a decade or a century ago, mankind loves to revisit those mistakes and find ways to do worse, but even in pitch-black darkness there is light, and even in the ugly, there is beauty. One phenomenon that unfortunately continues to pervade many societies around the world turns out to be the main attraction in this novel and it is none other than racism. And so, leave it to Lyndsay Faye, author of the Edgar-nominated novels Jane Steele and The Gods of Gotham, to deliver a stunning historical fiction blended with a healthy dose of mystery with her latest stand-alone novel The Paragon Hotel that tackles a timely subject still relevant today. What is The Paragon Hotel about? Set in 1921, the story follows Alice “Nobody” James on her journey from a Prohibition-era Harlen to Portland’s The Paragon Hotel. Inflicted with a bullet-wound, looking for a safe haven to hide from a drug deal gone wrong, she rides a train heading towards Portland, Oregan. Struck with serendipity, she meets a black Pullman porter whose unselfishness brings him to offer her a home to rest at. Putting himself and others at risk, Nobody finds refuge in the only all-black hotel where her being white installs tension in the occupants’ lives. Resting, she comes to acquaint herself with some memorable figures, including club chanteuse Blossom Fontaine and understands that there is more going on in Portland than meets the eye. In fact, the arrival of the Ku Klux Klan is the ultimate catalyst to the danger to come. When it comes down to historical fiction, its ability to be immersive will always be primordial and Lyndsay Faye nails it with the era, setting and characters in The Paragon Hotel. Not only is it obvious that she put in some solid work to get the research right for this story, but she also draws upon her unbelievable skills to create authentic characters that are not only easy to imagine but who also fit perfectly within the time period. The Paragon Hotel is particularly heavier in dialogues and offers readers the opportunity to look closely at the interactions between characters, but also the language used by everyone in their daily lives. Shocking at times, they are all genuine and easily sets the conflict-filled atmosphere that still exists within today’s society. The story is also told with two interlocking narratives (past and present), where the past explores Alice “Nobody” James' life within the criminal underworld and the present explores her life among the Paragon Hotel's community. While intriguing, the constant change from one timeline to another was, unfortunately, a little less fluid than expected. What was a bit more of a surprise was how the story starts off as a pure historical fiction only to later find the mystery groove that you would usually see coming from Lyndsay Faye. The distinction between both genres was a bit too raw for my taste and a would’ve been even better if it was seamless, but it didn’t completely take away from the tone set for this story. In fact, Lyndsay Faye delivers some wonderful plot twists as the story reaches its end and does a remarkable job in exploring the history of racism that plagued Portland. With themes of race and identity at the heart of this story, she also does a remarkable job in creating incredible characters that serve as excellent vessels to convey this tale. As much as you’d expect some people to be much more open-minded and considerate about others around them without filtering them based on their race, this story does a great job in portraying the issues through the eye of a character who can take on any personality to blend in with the mass. Her unique position offers us a truly eye-opening perspective into Portland’s Prohibition-era crime romp and racial tension. The Paragon Hotel is an exquisite exploration of race and identity in a Prohibition-era Portland city with unforgettable characters and their deeply-rooted struggles. Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada and G.P. Putnam's Sons for sending me a copy for review! Yours truly, Lashaan | Blogger and Book Reviewer Official blog: https://bookidote.com/

  15. 4 out of 5

    The Lit Bitch

    The first thing I said when I saw this book was—-finally a cool interesting book set in Portland! Living in Oregon, there isn’t an abundance of cool books set here. Sure we have a number of writers from Oregon that have made it into the ‘big time’, but for the most part Oregon isn’t exactly the hippest place to set your novel in. In recent years though I have seen a lot of writers—both from Oregon or the PacNW and not—set their books here in my lovely state but it’s still not as popular as say New The first thing I said when I saw this book was—-finally a cool interesting book set in Portland! Living in Oregon, there isn’t an abundance of cool books set here. Sure we have a number of writers from Oregon that have made it into the ‘big time’, but for the most part Oregon isn’t exactly the hippest place to set your novel in. In recent years though I have seen a lot of writers—both from Oregon or the PacNW and not—set their books here in my lovely state but it’s still not as popular as say New York or L.A.. I’ve read a few of Faye’s novels and have fallen in love with her writing so besides the fact that this book has Oregon ties, I wanted to read it because she wrote a new book! This book was such a pleasure to read for one solid reason—-atmosphere. As always, Faye does such a great job at creating a mood in her novels and this one was no different. I loved how the novel split between New York and Portland. I thought it added a lot of interest and broke up the story nicely. So many novels are set in New York so it’s familiar, but not a lot of novels are set in Portland so this adds a lot to keep the reader interested in some place new. I also thought the language of the novel worked well and kept things interesting and true to the period. I am normally not a huge fan of prohibition era books (just not my time period) but this book blended the glamour of the 1920s with the darker side of prohibition and the criminal world. This novel is darker and a little more gritty than her last novel, Jane Steele—at least in my opinion. I like how Faye has this seamless ability to write a darker novel but yet still balance it perfectly so that it will appeal to many readers. This book is rich in historical detail and brought to life a period that was a dark one for American history. In Portland, racism and the KKK aren’t things that a lot of people discuss or even really know about, and I love how Faye brings that side of Portland out in this book. It’s truly a pleasure to read a book so rich in historical detail as this one it. This is a novel that I think would be great for bookclubs. There is a lot to discuss and I think it’s a novel that will appeal to many, especially fans of historical fiction, but it has the darkness and grit of a noir book. I am super excited to share this novel with my friends and family, once again, a win for Faye! See my full review here

  16. 4 out of 5

    OLT

    What a story this is. It's a gangster/mafia story. It's a story about racism, including the KKK. It's a story about intolerance and bias. It's a story about friendship and relationships. It's a love story. It's a sad story, but yet a hopeful one. It's a story about resilience in the face of adversity. It choked me up more than once but had me amused or smiling at times also, thankfully, or I would have been an emotional mess as I finished reading. The tale begins in 1921, during the time of Prohi What a story this is. It's a gangster/mafia story. It's a story about racism, including the KKK. It's a story about intolerance and bias. It's a story about friendship and relationships. It's a love story. It's a sad story, but yet a hopeful one. It's a story about resilience in the face of adversity. It choked me up more than once but had me amused or smiling at times also, thankfully, or I would have been an emotional mess as I finished reading. The tale begins in 1921, during the time of Prohibition, when 25-year-old Alice James, aka "Nobody", on the run from the mafia in NYC and with a festering bullet wound, takes the train to Portland, Oregon. She's befriended on the train by Max Burton, a black Pullman porter, who takes her to the Paragon Hotel when they arrive in Portland. Now, mind you, this is an all-black hotel and Alice is Welsh-Italian, but she's in need and Dr. Pendleton, owner of the hotel, is an extremely capable medical doctor, not to mention a discreet one. So here's Alice, the only white resident of the Paragon. She's resented at first by the others, who figure she'll bring nothing but trouble to them. Turns out, however, that trouble would find them anyway. Oregon at the time was very racially intolerant and had the biggest KKK organization west of the Mississippi River. And even many of those whites not affiliated with the KKK still defended the northern chapters as a "political rallying tool and a charitable club. It's all America first with them...Fund-raisers, not lynch mobs." After all, "they're all church-goers." Well, as we all know, there's church going and then there's church going. It all depends on who you decide deserves your Christian charity. And when young Davy, an orphan boy living at the Paragon goes missing, things come to a crisis point. But this isn't just a story about racial intolerance in 1920s Oregon. We also have some very personal stories of many and varied characters. Of course, top of the list is Alice, or Nobody. Born and raised in NYC, with her Italian father deceased and her Welsh mother struggling to survive as a prostitute, it seems that her inevitable career path will also be on her back. Things get complicated by her close friendship with Nicolo Benenati and his family and when their lives are affected tragically by actions of the Corleonesi mafia, Alice finds herself under the wing of Mauro Salvatici, owner of the Arcadia Hotel and major enemy of the Corleonesi. As his protege, Alice use her "Nobody" abilities to adapt her personality and looks to any situation, as needed, to uncover information useful to Salvatici. Until the day she uncovers too much and off Alice goes, on the lam. These flashbacks to Alice's life in NYC during the time of Prohibition, all the people she interacted with, whether as friends or antagonists, is quite compelling and is interspersed throughout the book in chapters entitled "Then", as opposed to the Portland "Now" accounts. There are secrets and lies everywhere. In New York City and in Portland. Alice had unraveled many secrets to her detriment in NYC and now in Portland she may be on her way to uncovering several secrets and lies hidden at the Paragon Hotel. Much of the plot and writing in this book blew me away. I love Faye's descriptive abilities. When introducing young Davy to us, she says he "sits in the chair Blossom vacated, swinging energetic legs as if remaining still is an affront to personal freedoms." About housekeeper Mavereen: "She'd make an equally fine church board directress or cathouse madam..." Mrs. Muriel Snyder "has a face that makes me figure God took his inspiration from a potato." There's so much more of this and made it necessary for me to slow down and savor the writing, instead of rushing my way to the denouement. This is a lovely book about the human spirit and condition. It's a sad book about how tragedies can cause irreparable damage to one's soul. And it is also a hopeful one about how love and friendship can help one's spirit be more resilient. It's also a sobering look at how little progress we have made since the 1920s to overcome racism and intolerance. Alice muses toward the end of the book about "whether there will still be flaming crosses in the unknowable world fifteen years from now, when Davy Lee steps out to make it his own." It's much more than 15 years now in 2018 and even if there is less blatant cross burning, that doesn't mean we can be satisfied that the Davy Lees of our times have an equal footing and can make the world their own.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Swann

    3.5 stars. This one was different. I love historical fiction, so I was excited for this book. I did love the characters and their dynamics together. I can usually follow duel timelines pretty well, but these timelines seemed almost too close together and it was harder for me to keep them straight. I also had a bit of a hard time getting used to the language used and they way the characters talked. The storyline was strong, but I was expecting a bit more from it.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sue Em

    Well-written and immaculately researched historical novel/mystery. Little known facts detailing the pervasive mafia influence in Harlem alternate with the entrenched racism from Oregon's early days. Despite the serious themes underlying the book, it is just a delight to read. With a bullet wound in her side, Alice James, "Nobody," flees NYC traveling by railroad to Portland. Once there, the Pullman porter, Max, takes her in hand to the Paragon Hotel and to a doctor who won't ask any inconvenient Well-written and immaculately researched historical novel/mystery. Little known facts detailing the pervasive mafia influence in Harlem alternate with the entrenched racism from Oregon's early days. Despite the serious themes underlying the book, it is just a delight to read. With a bullet wound in her side, Alice James, "Nobody," flees NYC traveling by railroad to Portland. Once there, the Pullman porter, Max, takes her in hand to the Paragon Hotel and to a doctor who won't ask any inconvenient questions. Rich with period details, the story sparkles with unique characters. Don't miss this one!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Elaine -

    I just couldn't like this book. I really tried. I made it about halfway through and then questioned why I was still reading. The Paragon Hotel has a high rating on Goodreads, so I kept thinking I was missing something or that the book had to get better. The narrators voice just wasn't working for me. I understand that she is a con artist and changes into who she needs to be to suit the situation, but I found her voice hard to read. I typically love historical fiction, but this book wasn't for me I just couldn't like this book. I really tried. I made it about halfway through and then questioned why I was still reading. The Paragon Hotel has a high rating on Goodreads, so I kept thinking I was missing something or that the book had to get better. The narrators voice just wasn't working for me. I understand that she is a con artist and changes into who she needs to be to suit the situation, but I found her voice hard to read. I typically love historical fiction, but this book wasn't for me.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Elinor Gray

    A lovely, compelling story about troubled people just trying to connect with one another. Beautiful language, interesting characters, and a double-edged mystery that kept me up reading just one more chapter.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Chandra Claypool (wherethereadergrows)

    I've been a fan of Faye since Jane Steele and she come back to us again with another stunner in The Paragon Hotel. I'm not much on historical fiction usually but I've ben surprised lately.. however, I already knew going in that Faye has a talent of bringing history to life. She brings Nobody and everybody into The Paragon Hotel. We switch back and forth from NYC Harlem and how Nobody, "just call me Alice", came to Oregon, The Paragon Hotel and her reasonings behind what she does. Introducing char I've been a fan of Faye since Jane Steele and she come back to us again with another stunner in The Paragon Hotel. I'm not much on historical fiction usually but I've ben surprised lately.. however, I already knew going in that Faye has a talent of bringing history to life. She brings Nobody and everybody into The Paragon Hotel. We switch back and forth from NYC Harlem and how Nobody, "just call me Alice", came to Oregon, The Paragon Hotel and her reasonings behind what she does. Introducing characters such as the doctor, Davy and Blossom, here comes a mystery I wasn't expecting and the KKK, which I was. I was fortunate enough to meet Lyndsay when she was promoting The Whole Art of Detection and remember her mentioning this is where her next book was going to be heading. I was instantly intrigued and SO excited to get my hands on a copy. I'll be completely honest, it took me quite a bit to get into this book. The cadence and language was hard for me to grasp on to right away. "Quelque". There's nothing that comes out and nudges you or completely WOWs you in an instant scene or reveal. What we get is a span throughout the ENTIRE read that starts to settle into your soul. If you're a lover of historical fiction and reading about the KKK and prohibition times, this is most definitely the read for you. Don't let what I consider a slow start deter you. At right about the third way into the story, I found myself wanting to take this journey with Nobody. This time period is such a hard one - we still see racism and the KKK is still affluent unfortunately. Some language and scenes really made me angry and I found myself frowning quite a bit throughout the read. If a book can pull these feelings well... I think it's doing something right. 3.5 stars

  22. 4 out of 5

    ❀⊱RoryReads⊰❀

    Review in progress!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Charles Finch

    Such a charmer. Review tk

  24. 5 out of 5

    Leigh Kramer

    I'm declining to review this due to problematic content related to race and LGBTQ representation. I had concerns whether a white cis author could do the story justice, or should be telling it in the first place, and it's not clear sensitivity readers were used in addition to her research. But after starting to read it and talking with a couple people who have, it does not appear so. I'm really sad about this, as I loved Jane Steele and was really looking forward to reading more from Faye. More d I'm declining to review this due to problematic content related to race and LGBTQ representation. I had concerns whether a white cis author could do the story justice, or should be telling it in the first place, and it's not clear sensitivity readers were used in addition to her research. But after starting to read it and talking with a couple people who have, it does not appear so. I'm really sad about this, as I loved Jane Steele and was really looking forward to reading more from Faye. More details in Margrethee's post.

  25. 4 out of 5

    KC

    The year is 1921 and a young, white Alice James is running from her ties in NYC and from the mafia. Aboard a train bound for Oregon, she befriends a black Pullman porter named Max who finds her story, life and run-ins intriguing. Once in Portland, he takes her to The Paragon Hotel, an all-black residence in the city. Alice soon realizes that the crime on the west coast is just as troubling when she discovers the city is a new stomping ground for the Klu Klux Klan. Slick dialog, a blossoming inte The year is 1921 and a young, white Alice James is running from her ties in NYC and from the mafia. Aboard a train bound for Oregon, she befriends a black Pullman porter named Max who finds her story, life and run-ins intriguing. Once in Portland, he takes her to The Paragon Hotel, an all-black residence in the city. Alice soon realizes that the crime on the west coast is just as troubling when she discovers the city is a new stomping ground for the Klu Klux Klan. Slick dialog, a blossoming interracial romance and an ever growing danger from all sides makes for an interesting read.

  26. 5 out of 5

    SUSAN *Nevertheless,she persisted*

    Read the description above,if that doesn't tempt you to want to devour this book,nothing I say will. It had all the the bells and whistles for me. Well written, characters that remain with you long after the book is closed, great storytelling. Would highly recommend.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Beth Cato

    I received this book through Netgalley. With Paragon Hotel, Lyndsay Faye reaffirms that she’s one of the best authors out there of historical fiction. Not only does she illuminate historical eras with stunning realistic detail (see her Timothy Wilde trilogy set in 1840s New York), but she creates utterly human characters you can’t help but love and hate. The way she utilizes period patter with such flow leaves me in awe as an author. In Paragon Hotel, we meet Nobody as she’s dying of a gunshot wou I received this book through Netgalley. With Paragon Hotel, Lyndsay Faye reaffirms that she’s one of the best authors out there of historical fiction. Not only does she illuminate historical eras with stunning realistic detail (see her Timothy Wilde trilogy set in 1840s New York), but she creates utterly human characters you can’t help but love and hate. The way she utilizes period patter with such flow leaves me in awe as an author. In Paragon Hotel, we meet Nobody as she’s dying of a gunshot wound on a westbound train. She was trained to be an anti-Mafia spy, to become wallpaper in any room; she’s not even sure who she is anymore. The kind black porter, a veteran of the War, realizes her perilous condition and takes her to a dangerous place in order to save her life: the Paragon Hotel, an all-black establishment in Oregon, a state where black people are not allowed. The historical facts behind the fiction are stunning. Oregon was established as a white utopia. In the 1920s, it was a hotbed of KKK activity. A black men were lynched for even looking at a white woman, and here is Nobody, requiring the aid of a black doctor and other hotel staff in order to stay alive. Each character is vivid and complex, with many secrets—which Nobody soon begins to uncover. This is a book that is, in turns, beautiful and horrible… and all the more horrible because of the reality it is based upon. As in her other series, Faye does an incredible job of representing diverse perspectives on matters of race, sexuality, and mental illness. This is one of the best books I have read in recent years, and I read a lot of books.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Tom Swift

    3.5 stars. A young woman's boards a train from New York in 1915 with a fresh bullet wound and $50,000 in cash. She is on the run, anywhere far away. She ends up in Portland and The Paragon hotel. I wanted to like this a little more, I was hoping for another gear to kick in, but it didn't for me. Good story though

  29. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    Lyndsay Faye always manages to find unique stories to tell. Well, I say find, but what she really does is create unique stories built around diligent research she does on the hidden facts of people and places in the history. From Jack the Ripper to the early days of the New York City Police Department, this author discloses the unvarnished truth of struggle and survival in the trenches. And, she does so through characters who take our breath away with their perseverance and bravery. There must a Lyndsay Faye always manages to find unique stories to tell. Well, I say find, but what she really does is create unique stories built around diligent research she does on the hidden facts of people and places in the history. From Jack the Ripper to the early days of the New York City Police Department, this author discloses the unvarnished truth of struggle and survival in the trenches. And, she does so through characters who take our breath away with their perseverance and bravery. There must always be people willing to stand up against the ills of society, the mistreatment of fellow human beings, and Lyndsay Faye gives readers these people’s stories so poignantly that we are forever touched by them. Her characters aren’t perfect people, they have their flaws, but they step up when the stepping is needed. Because I learn important, forgotten or hidden pieces of our history and lessons about what counts doesn’t mean that there is anything dry or didactic about Faye’s writing. Her stories from which I learn so much are gripping masterpieces of narrative in full color. They will tear your heart out but renew your faith in the possibility of good endeavor. The Paragon Hotel is the tale of Alice James, aka “Nobody,” but she is also the vehicle by which the stories of so many others are told. Beginning in the Harlem district of New York City at the turn of the 20th century and crossing the country to the city of Portland, Oregon in the early 1920s, it is a tale of survival and identity and love and loss. Alice is smack in the middle of the turbulent issues of each place. Being half Italian, she is destined to be involved with Italians and Sicilians and by extension, the Mafia fighting for control of Harlem. Born to a prostitute mother, Alice lives at the hotel where her mother works, and the moniker “Nobody” has been attached to Alice because of her blending in and out of scenes without notice. When a friend’s father is brutally murdered by the mob, fifteen-year-old Alice ends up living at another hotel under the protection of a man vying for control against the Corleone mafia. She is valued for her ability to go unnoticed and thus becomes the ears and eyes of Mr. Salvatici, her benefactor. All good things must come to an end, or in this case, the mafia life can send a girl running, especially when she has a bullet hole or two in her side. Alice and $50,000 catch a cross-country train after she narrowly escapes with her life hanging in threads. She luckily makes acquaintance with one of the train porters named Max. Because of Max and his connections to the Paragon Hotel in Portland, Oregon, and its resident doctor, Dr. Pendleton, Alice lives. The Paragon Hotel is an all-black establishment in Portland, and Max and Dr. Pendleton fit its requirements for residence. Alice does not, but she is allowed to stay and recover from her wounds. It seems Alice has gone from one city’s terrors to another’s, as she quickly learns that Portland and Oregon are staunchly pro-white population and decidedly anti-black. The Ku Klux Klan has moved quite visibly into the area under the guise of "a political rallying tool and a charitable club," and most of the white population is happy to accept that lie. As Alice becomes closer and closer to those at the Paragon Hotel, she understands the precarious position people of color hold in the community and just how brutal the Klan is in its dealing with them. When a mulatto child who lives at the hotel goes missing and the black community searches for him, racism quickly escalates into a fight for survival. Alice is clearly on the side of her hotel friends and uses her chameleon skills honed in New York to aid in their struggle and search, but there are secrets among the friends that prove dangerous to their safety. So it is that readers have another brilliant book from Lyndsay Faye. There may be equals, but there are none better at weaving words into such a mesmerizing flow. She has a command over the language and its use that makes a reader giddy with satisfaction, each word hitting its mark. For those of us who get tingles when a phrase is turned just so, reading this book is an experience of mind tingling delight. One of the things I most loved about The Paragon Hotel and its main character Alice “Nobody” James is the witty dialogue. The art of quick and clever repartee is something author Lyndsay Faye’s writing has always been well versed in, and readers will enjoy Alice's retorts for their engaging smartness. Fans of Lyndsay Faye will be thrilled with The Paragon Hotel, and new readers will be so enthralled that they will quickly be scrambling to read all her previous works, too.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jacqie

    Lyndsay Faye is an author whose books I'll pick up whenever I see a new one. I really enjoyed her nineteenth century New York copper mysteries, and Jane Steele was a fun romp. This book is a bit more in the vein of Jane Steele, with a witty young female protagonist who is more concerned with justice than the law. The book is set in the Jazz Age, and goes back and forth between Alice "Nobody" James healing up from a bullet wound in Portland, OR in a hotel for colored people in a state where color Lyndsay Faye is an author whose books I'll pick up whenever I see a new one. I really enjoyed her nineteenth century New York copper mysteries, and Jane Steele was a fun romp. This book is a bit more in the vein of Jane Steele, with a witty young female protagonist who is more concerned with justice than the law. The book is set in the Jazz Age, and goes back and forth between Alice "Nobody" James healing up from a bullet wound in Portland, OR in a hotel for colored people in a state where colored people are technically illegal; to flashbacks of Alice growing up in Harlem and falling in with the Mafia in order to make her way in the world. Alice is a fun person as a POV character- she's sharp but compassionate, loyal to a fault, and tries on personalities like dresses in order to fit into any given situation. The book gives gorgeous details about the setting and the characters are complex and authentic. The book does get a bit lost in the weeds at times, because Faye wants to give her characters every chance to act like themselves and for us to grow to care about them. I've have been okay with the plot moving a bit faster, and maybe with a bit less flashback. I'm not sure flashbacks were really necessary for this book to work, but they are de riguour right now, so. A Lyndsay Faye book will always give you a chance to time travel- she's an expert at bringing the past to life, and her research into the past always yields information that is relevant to issues we are facing today. I appreciate her passion for social justice, and the reminder that the fight is never over.

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