Review of Imperial Hotel by Diane Marina

Imperial hotel

Imperial hotel tells the love story of Joan and Lily, two society women of the late 1940s and how their lives develop together following a meeting at the hotel arranged by their mothers.

Rating 4.5 out of 5

Having read “Landslide” before, I expected to enjoy this book. Diane has a wonderful writing style which really shines in a “Novella” like this.  I particularly liked the way the book engages the reader, encouraging you to develop the plot yourself allowing you to explore the characters and their feelings long after you’ve put it down.  It isn’t just a nice story, but one that stays with you after you read it, giving you chance to reflect on how things have changed, not just for women, but for women in love.  Best of all you can also ponder what you would have done in the same situation…..

Imperial Hotel is a beautiful love story which tells of the relationship between Joan and Lily in a time when the social attitudes and expectations of women were very different.  The book divides neatly into three parts, their introduction, courtship and latter day reflection, with the story highlighting each woman’s thoughts about the relationship during each part.

Joan’s introduction to Lily at the hotel is typical of many around the world at a time of arranged marriages.  Her mother is introducing her to the socialite scene and looking for lily to “mentor” her in order to find an appropriate suitor.  From this introduction, Joan’s feelings for Lily develop as they spend more time together making arrangements for both Lilys wedding, Joan’s courtship and volunteer work at a nearby homeless shelter.

Joan and Lilys characters each have a different appeals and vulnerabilities which depending on your own perspective, you’ll find hard not to sympathise with at least one, or both off.  I personally aligned with Lily, not just because of her rebellious nature that is full of hope, but also what she stands to lose in terms of how her life develops.   For me, that made her the villain of the story, who also comes complete with her own “pretty woman” moment, which I would defy you not to smile at !  Joan’s character (for me the heroine) is more confident of her feelings after their initial introduction, but which aren’t enough for Lily to buck the social convention and path laid out for her.  Reeling from this rejection, Joan throws herself back at rebuilding her life and her university studies, with Lily seeking her out again, shortly after the birth of her child.

I really enjoyed this book, not just for the story and the characters, but for the style of writing.  For me, this is a “feel good” book, which was easy to read and impossible to put down !!  Why not give your kindle a treat and buy it for an ideal start to a perfect lazy Sunday?

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