The Paragon Hotel by Lyndsay Faye

The Paragon Hotel

Lyndsay Faye

Desperate to get far away from those who want her dead, Alice has her sights set on Oregon. She travels from Prohibition-era Harlem to Portland’s the Paragon Hotel and becomes tangled in a search for a missing child in the woods.

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The new and exciting historical 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 Fontaine seem to be at the very center of this tangled web?


Advance Galley Reviews

Total suspense through the hole story, and because I didn't have high expectations on this book, I'm glad to say it was a delightful surprise.

I don't recall reading anything from Lyndsay Faye in the past so this story was a delightful surprise. While the main character's story wasn't as interesting as the story surrounding the Paragon, it's characters are. I'm definitely glad I read this book and look forward to reading more from Faye in the future.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, though it has some tough scenes. It was a page turner! Well-researched, well-written. If you get a chance to see Lyndsay Faye, DO! She is a great speaker and talks about her inspirations for this book.

The history depicted in The Paragon Hotel by Lyndsay Faye is fascinating, but the book is challenging. The two story line structure is a challenge because the two stories are so closely placed in time. The surrounding characters and the history are more interesting than the main character Alice's story. Finally, the language feels overdone. Perhaps, my biggest takeaway from this book is the history of racism in Portland. For that lesson, I am glad I read the book. Read my complete review at http://www.memoriesfrombooks.com/2019/02/the-paragon-hotel.html. Reviewed for Penguin First to Read program.

A story told out of order, with plenty of suspense in the telling. Alice "Nobody" ended up on the run with a bullet in her side, fetching up at the Paragon Hotel. She doesn't strictly belong there, but she's practiced at lying, so she can make do. There are plenty of other secrets at the Paragon Hotel, though, some of them worth killing over. The story is gripping, the flashbacks still easy to follow, with plenty of red herrings on the path to unraveling the mystery. Excellent character development, which made me quite invested in the outcome. And the end is happier than I had reason to expect.

Exciting read.

Intrigue and excitement, I loved it!

My admiration for the diligence of Lyndsay Faye's research as well as her masterly command of the written word knows no end( Yes, I'm more than a bit envious of her skill). I just couldn't get into her latest novel. 1920's history has quite a bit to teach us, lessons in the mob and white supremacy still haven't been applied a hundred years later. It's a book that I would want my daughter to read, and maybe one I would revisit at a later date.

I liked this book, but I feel like the author was trying to do too much with it. I appreciated the comparison of the racial divide in Portland and NYC in the early 1900s, but it was a lot. I'm not sure if it was entirely needed. Having a short bit about Alice/Nobody's time in NYC and then going to Portland would have been enough for me. The flip-flopping between locations and time periods made the book drag on. I enjoyed the mystery aspect of it as well as the small bits of romance. The ending was very unexpected and I always appreciate an author who can surprise me. I also enjoyed the periods of suspense. Overall this book was a little too long and I had trouble connecting with the characters. I wanted to really like this book but it felt more like the need to finish rather than the enjoyment of the story that made me continue to flip the pages...if that makes sense...just 3 stars for this one

I'm not a big fan of books taking place in the past. So I decided to give this read a try. It was not for me and I wished I'd known it would mention the KKK. I was expecting an intense mystery novel and instead ended up disappointed. 1.5 stars

This is a test review to see if I can access new giveaways once I review this book.

Alice James, AKA Nobody, gets on a train to Oregon with a bullet in her trying to escape people who want her dead. Along the way she becomes friends with a Black Porter names Max. When she arrives in Portland with nowhere to go and in desperate need of medical help, Max takes her to the Paragon Hotel, a Black only hotel that also serves as a permanent home to some. Not everyone is welcoming as it puts them at risk to have a white woman staying there. She pretends to be a journalist doing a story on the infamous hotel as a cover for living there. Soon she becomes friends with quite a few of the workers that live there. One day Alice and a couple of residents take the orphan mulatto, Davy Lee, to the park only for him to disappear right under their noses. Afraid he has been taken by the KKK, they start a frantic search for the little boy and their biggest allie is the Chief of Police’s wife. While looking for the young boy, Alice realizes she is not the only one with deadly secrets. This book was just okay for me. I’m a fan of this author’s and Jane Steele immediately became one of my all time favorites but this book felt forced and just too much. It was interesting with the historical aspect but the story itself did not really draw me in. I’m giving it 3.5 stars. Thank you Penguin First to Read for the opportunity to read this book and give an honest review.

It was a good read but it a little bit longer than what I expected to get hooked. After the beginning unravels it will get you hooked. I pretty much enjoyed it.

Despite an intriguing prologue (which really got my attention), the book starts out a little slow. The characters are well-developed, especially the main character. The dual settings are almost characters too - and helps to create the intrigue/tension in the book. I'm fond of the era of the book and I liked the historical aspects - Harlem, the Mafia, the rise of the KKK in Portland, Prohibition. The risk of the KKK and racism/prejudices in the book are also timely, even if they're taking place in the past. The book does switch back and forth between Now and Past and I know that sort of thing can be hard for some people so that's worth keeping in mind if this is a book you'd like to read. I liked that aspect of the book but I know it's not for everyone. There's also kind of two mysteries - who Nobody is and what's happened to the child who goes missing. Overall, I enjoyed the book. I'm hesitant to say more because I don't want to give anything away but this is definitely a book worth reading!

I have found myself swooning over everything Lyndsay Faye is doing in this novel. I greatly enjoyed every last bit of this and couldn't put it down. She illustrated characters so beautifully and ornately that I couldn't help but fall in love. There was so much complexity in each person that you could tell they all had a life outside of this novel and you wanted to understand it. I am always a fan of dual timeline and this was masterfully done. I especially enjoyed it as somewhat of converging timelines as the story from Nobody's (the main character) past crept up to meet us where we originally found her. Both settings, NYC and Portland were clearly researched and explained in a way that made me entirely present while not boring me with unnecessary details. I'm a fan of historical fiction and The Paragon Hotel took me to places that I wasn't familiar with. This was my second opportunity to read Lyndsay Faye and I'm hooked. I can't wait to dive deeper into her writing. I would strongly suggest this to anyone who enjoys historical fiction and a feisty protagonist.

I love the time period this novel was set in, but I really had a hard time getting into the book. Maybe another try will make it easier.

Wanted very much to read, but due to illness was not able to complete before expiration.

This story was a wealth of historical knowledge of not only Mafia-ravaged Harlem but also racially-charged Portland in the early 1900s. Lyndsay Faye does an excellent job with her prose of setting the scene in each place and each character, big or small, is well-developed to the point where you feel like you know them personally. I loved the way the story blends between Alice's time in Harlem pre-Paragon Hotel to present time at Paragon and both sides of the story come together for a brilliant end all at once. I'm always a sucker for historical fiction, especially when it is centered around an era or event that I know little about. Because of this book and the author's diligence, I feel like I learned quite a bit while also completely enjoying the story.

The Paragon Hotel Lyndsay Faye This is a wonderful time piece set in the early 1900’s. It is mostly set in Portland, Oregon and tells the ideas and cultures of the times. It shows Portland in a not so liberal light as it holds today and touches on the dingier side of life as it was. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and will enjoy reading it again. I received this from Penguin's First to Read Program in exchange for an honest review.

Lindsay Faye is one of my favorite authors of historical fiction, and with The Paragon Hotel she does not fail to deliver another great historical novel, this one set in the early 1920s. Her rendering of the era in both New York's Harlem and Portland Oregon is amazing. The rise of the KKK in Portland and the ravages of the Mafia in Harlem and the juxtaposition of both of these scourges along with the way they impacted people, the slow revelation of Alice James, the complex, compelling denizens of The Paragon Hotel, and the multi-layered plot - all was magical. I would have finished the novel in one or two sittings, but the book came to me just as I was packing for a move across country, and since then I've either been too busy packing, moving or unpacking and organizing to read much.

I am so sorry - I just realized this never sent, so I'll keep it short and sweet: I adored this from the start! "Nobody" is an intriguing protagonist - is she an unreliable narrator or legit? And define "legit".... This story was entertaining and a neat look into the past from voices we don't get to hear from enough.

I love Lyndsay Faye! Absolutely love the time period and dynamic in this one. Great read!

This story is a powerful one full of love, sadness, friendship and the power of those relationships. Set amongst the time when gangsters and the mafia ruled Harlem. Where fear of retaliation and power among your own was a cause for a look back behind your shoulder everywhere you went. In a time when the KKK fuled by racism or as they called it, "regilious" and the christian duty was in full force in the south. Yes, in the south; however, just as strong in the pacific northwest of America such as Portland, Oregon. And in this time of the 1920's when prohibition was in force as was racism, we begin this story with a young woman nicknamed: Nobody. True name, Alice James. Who is on the run from the mafia in New York, with a bullet lodged inside of her. She embarks on a train from the east coast to Portland, Oregon. On that ride she is befriended by an african american man, Max Burton. Who takes her to the Paragon Hotel once they arrive and introduce her to his friends. The only thing is this is an all black hotel and with the KKK about and in need of a doctor there is considerable risk. Lucky for her Dr. Pendleton, the owner of the establishment is a very good medical doctor who is able to remove the bullet without much fuss. The only white person staying at the Paragon Hotel with an unknown past, she is initially regarded with approached by the others with resentment and a full wall of gaurded characters. Who believe she will bring nothing but more trouble for them. In this time Oregon was an intolerant, racist area for african americans to live in and just like the south they had a KKK organization. In fact, it was they biggest west of the Mississippi river. They were known as a simple," charitiable club and a political rallying tool." Church going sort. Who in their words were trying to make "America first" and in doing so improving the country. However, soon enough young Davy, an orphan boy living inside the Paragon Hotel goes missing. That is precisely when the crisis of the story begins. The other part of the story is that of "Nobody's" background living in NYC. Her connectione to her friend Nicolo Benenati, his family and their connection to the Corleonesi mafia. Where she finds herself thrusted under the man Mauro Salvatici, owner of the well known Arcadia hotel. Also the enemy of the Corleonesi. Alice works as a protege under him and uses her abilities as, "Nobody" to find any information that may be useful to Mr. Salvatici. It is then one day when she comes across too much information catches up to her. I.e. "the bullet." The back story of her time in NYC with the mafia, who she spent time with was a intriguing and compelling part of the story. Alice lived in a world of secrets in New York just as she is doing so in Portland. Throughout her time staying at the Paragon Hotel she unravels more within the walls and characters she comes to know as friends. The story was immediately intriguing for me have been born and raised in Oregon and I also still live. I do know about our states history of the KKK; however, this book also helped open my eyes to some facts I never knew. One way was by the actual quotes from back in that time at the start of certain chapters. It is there I was blown away to see one from my hometown of Grants Pass, Oregon. In fact, there is two different quotes the author Lyndsay Faye uses. No way was I blown away due to being naive of my areas history of the KKK. No, I'm quite the opposite. It was just seeing it in print on such a scale as in this book. Southern Oregon had a huge KKK organization in the 1920's and 30's and even into the 1960's I have learned there was a term as the "sundown time." In regards to blacks, at least how very few there would lf been. So in all as an Oregonian myself I found this down right appalling, intriguing and still it shows how this state has changed just as the nation has. And continues to so. Getting back to the story itself, the author did well at narrating the plot and the comparisons of New York to that of Portland. Though completely different mafia vs KKK there is still some similarities that can be seen in Alice's time in both. I also loved the authors ability to bring the book alive through the spot on speech and wording if you will used during that time. It truly does bring alive the descriptige story unfolding, bringing you there in your mind. This book is truly a very compelling story full of people with troubled backgrounds brought together by a human connection.

What a wonderfully surprising story! First you think you are just dealing with Alice/Alicia James, aka Nobody, and her escape from gangsters back in Harlem. Then interracial relations and racism are introduced. And the story goes on from there. The book is very successful in drawing the reader in because Ms. Faye does such a wonderful job of creating her characters and infusing her dialogue with the slang of the day. I will admit some frustration learning Alice's past in a piecemeal fashion but by the end of the book you realize it was only the smallest of parts of the overall story. She was just an introduction to the many other inhabitants of The Paragon Hotel, where love and loyalty are of the upmost importance. Fans of historical fiction will find themselves losing sleep to read just one more chapter of this thoroughly enjoyable book! A copy of this book was provided by Penguin First to Read in exchange for an honest review.

When I requested this book, I only knew that it was set in my home town of Portland, Oregon and was curious to see how the city would be portrayed and built out in the novel. It took me a little time to settle into the characters and the sitting, but I found the second half of the novel especially compelling. I am excited by the idea of an author engaging with the racist origins of Oregon and the experiences of the Black community in Portland in the early 1900s. The language sometimes felt forced, but the characters are compelling, the narrative drive is engaging, and I wanted to see how it all came together. I am so glad that I was able to read this book - I continued to think about it far after I finished it.

Good read. Interesting and complex characters. Good story flow. Entertaining and hard to put down!

I admit, before reading The Paragon Hotel, I had never heard of Lindsay Faye. Now, I am headed straight to the library to read more of her work. This book was about conflict from the get-go. Set in the 1920's in both Harlem, NY and in Portland Oregon, I enjoyed the flip flops in scene and timeline. The story is about a white woman, yes a woman, who was involved with a mafia connection, gone bad. This same woman ends up residing in an all black hotel. We've got forbidden love, racy relationships, and even a sideline mystery. Oh, such colorful character builds. Great re-creation of a time period full of prohibition, organized crime, and racism. I found myself fully engulfed into the world of The Pentagon Hotel. ????

The book was hard for me to get into at first, but as the story went along, I enjoyed it more and more. I enjoy reading fiction based on historical events, so this book appealed to me.

At the start of the book I had a hard time getting into it because of the style in which it was written. However I believe the pay off of pushing though the early stages was worth the read. I love murder histories, especially when they are set in the past. The book deals with several issues such as racism and sexism and I learned a lot from it.

This book gripped me much more than I expected it to. I've read stories like this one before, but none with as much depth and intrigue. You can tell the author took great care to tell these characters' stories well and accurately, which made all the difference. This book tells hard truths about the racism, sexism, and corruption that plague our country's past (and present), all while unfolding and intertwining stories of strength and redemption. While some parts did seem to drag on for a bit, the story as a whole did not suffer for it at all. Lyndsay Faye is a force and I loved every minute of this.

I have been excited to settle into this historical thriller for the past couple of weeks and was looking forward to all of the pieces of your typical historical novel and this didn't disappoint. While I agree with other reviewers that the book didn't grab me from the start once I committed to reading it, I'd say within the first fifty pages, the story really picked up. I love reading books and strong and complicated woman and Alice certainly checked those boxes. That along with some underlying messages about inclusion and identity left me feeling that this novel set in the 20s was still timelessly relevant. I'd recommend this to anyone who enjoys thrillers or mysteries and I think it may be a great foray into historical fiction. Thanks to Penguin House for my ARC of this book.

This is a unique historical fiction and mystery novel set in the Prohibition era. I really enjoyed the strong protagonist of Alice, and how she uses different personalities for various aspects of the story. A eclectic ensemble of characters enhance the story, and an exciting back-story also contribute to keeping me turning the pages. This was very well-researched and well-written. Though the book did have a bit of a slow build, and there were times that I was a little confused at the beginning of the novel, it made more sense the more you delved into the story. And there are even some surprises I didn’t expect too. Overall, this was an enjoyable book. Thanks to First to Read for letting me read this early in exchange for an honest review.

When I first read the description of the book, I thought it would be interesting. The 1920s and a murder mystery? Well call me intrigued. However, when I started it, I couldn't get myself into the book at all. I feel like I need to be in the right mood to read the book itself. It was too slow and I had to stop reading it after trying to get through it. Maybe I'll pick it up again, but I couldn't force myself to finish. Sorry Lyndsay Faye. Maybe I'll read it once I'm in the mood for some historical murder mystery. 3 out of 5 stars.

A great story of racism.

I really enjoyed Jane Steele, so I was looking forward to this new novel from Lyndsay Faye. I think my expectations were too high. Alice James is fleeing from New York with a bullet wound that nearly causes her to lose her life. Max, a porter on her train, takes her to the Paragon Hotel in Portland to get her treatment. From there, the story is told from the perspective of "Then" (New York) where it deals with the Mafia and "Now" (Portland) where the focus is on racial tensions and the KKK. There are several strong characters in addition to Max and Alice, and this helped keep my interest. I found all the slang difficult to read and sometimes I had to review a section to be sure I had understood what was happening. Because of this, I struggled to finish the book. Rating 3 out of 5 stars

I really could not get invested in this book. I finished it because I don't believe in quitting a book but this did not do much for me. This is not a knock on Lyndsay Faye as I think she is a fantastic writer. I do plan on re-reading this in the future and hopefully I will be able to appreciate it a bit more.

I really liked this book but it did start slow for me, hence the four stars. Thank you to First to Read and Penguin Random House for the ARC. It is a historical fiction adventure based in both the past (NYC) and the present (Portland, Oregon). A very headstrong white woman, Alice James, nicknamed "Nobody" by her mother was mixed up with the mafia in NYC which led to the reasons she ends up in Portland, Oregon. She lands in the Paragon Hotel which caters to the black people of the 1920s where she meets another very strong woman, Blossom Fontaine. Alice is sent on many adventures her black friends could not accomplish due to the color of their skin. I never knew that Oregon in 2016 was the "Whitest City in America" with only 6% African Americans and 72% Caucasians. I was also surprised to learn Portland also had the largest KKK organization west of the Mississippi. Sadly, some things are never as they seem......then or now!

Memorable quotes: ”Terrible town of roses and rainfall.” “Breaking down the color line.” “A frog isn’t like a flamingo. That doesn’t make it a hippopotamus.” The Paragon Hotel is a thriller with incredible fictional characters that are part of a compelling story based on historical facts. The story begins with Alice “Nobody” James on a train, running for her life, with a life-threatening bullet wound. When Max, a black porter, sees her, he simply cannot leave her to die. He takes her to the Paragon Hotel, where he resides between his employ on trains. This is a real problem. It is 1921 Portland, Oregon, and the hotel is an all-black establishment. One of the hotel’s many residents is a doctor, and due to his oath, he saves her life. The other long-time residents want Alice gone as soon as possible. For one thing, the racial tension in Oregon was beyond despicable and the KKK was moving in rapidly to “purify” the city of Portland. As a white woman, Alice’s presence is bound to create even deeper tensions. One of the other guests was Blossom Fontaine, a stunningly beautiful singer with the voice of an angel. Blossom was pivotal to this story. There were other impressive guests, including the aforementioned Max, Dr. Pendleton, the overly religiously-minded Mavereen and little Davy Lee. As Alice was fleeing Harlem, New York, her reasons for doing so were recounted in alternating chapters referred to as Then. Seeing how Alice grew up, as Nobody, was revealed in a series of painful recollections, and these included violence and murder. I couldn’t help but feel incredibly sorry for Alice. She suffered unimaginable pain and tragedy in her young life. In the Present chapters of this chilling book, there were several disconcerting scenarios, such as mental illness and the hatred that culminated in loss and further unspeakable violence. I really appreciated this book, such as when powerful friendships were formed. But I also hated aspects of it. I was just not prepared to read what so many, many people suffered at the hands of others. Sadly, hatred and prejudice still exists in many pockets of this world. While my heart broke for those in this fictionalized account, I am truly saddened for the awful things still done by others in today’s world. It is not simply dislike that was experienced in the pages of this book. Not hatred. Even worse, it was the loathing that these people suffered that literally shattered me. I cried four times during this book, even while reading the historical note at the end. There is no doubt that the author did an astonishing amount of research while writing this story. This book boasts far more than impeccable research; the prose is absolutely superb. The characters are stellar, whether they are good or bad, and then there is the mystery that is ever-present. I literally had trouble putting this book down. I am truly eager to see how this book fares to other readers. Many thanks to G.P. Putnam’s Sons and First to Read for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.

Loved this book, very interesting subject. It painted a vivid portrait and pulled me in.

Alice runs into trouble with the Mob in Harlem and must fell to save her life. Suffering from a gunshot wound that csued her to leave NeW York she winds up at the Paragon hotel in Portland Oregon in a hotel for African American customers. It took a bit for me to get into this book but then Ifound it quite interesting. I always enjoy historical fiction. I also knew next to nothing about Portland during prohibition so that make for an interesting read.

I tried several times to read this book. I just couldn't get into it.

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

Initially reading THE PARAGON HOTEL was difficult for me because I really wasn't digging the cadence of Alice's voice. It was far too affected and just came off so thick and grating that it just made reading difficult. But eventually it settled in and you come to realize that none of it's real. This persona is one of many for Alice and while, unfortunately, the story's in her voice, the timeline does alternate between the original, child Alice James, and the Nobody she becomes that dominates the story. It was also difficult to read some of the chapter headers because of the language that's just casually thrown down. But eventually it paints a picture. The world that Alice literally rides into in Portland is a tense one, to say the least. You don't see it at first, because the story's told from Alice's perspective and for a chunk of time she's healing from a gunshot wound. But once she starts moving around and exploring you start seeing just what kind of world Alice has walked in on. Portland at that time was effectively a white colony with actual laws in place that prohibited African Americans from living within state lines. The Paragon was an oasis where black people could feel a modicum of safety not afforded them anywhere else and with Alice coming into their midst, it's a problem. This is a time when black people get lynched just for touching a white person. And now this nothing white woman is residing in a black hotel? It could cause a problem for all involved. Page by page the book peels back its layers, slowly unveiling who Alice James actually is through chapters in alternating timelines back to her time as a child in a predominantly Italian neighborhood in Harlem and growing up with the Mafia up her ass. And then the business with Davy happens and even more layers get peeled back that reveal more than just a lost girl and social injustice. A rich history and layers of compelling stories abound in THE PARAGON HOTEL that one can't really appreciate until you get to the end. There's a hindsight effect to the book that's hitting me as I sit here typing this up. I wasn't really sure how I felt about the book going into writing this review, but now that I'm writing it I realize how much I actually liked it. It's a slow burn and it's something that kind of stuns you when you finish it and it isn't until you're able to step away from it and truly process what it is you've just read can you really appreciate the book. The characters are absolutely stunning and Faye weaves an image of history that's so incredibly vivid it might as well be its own character. It's clear I've been missing out on Faye's work. I'd never heard of her until this book came across my desk but I'm going to have to remedy that. Looking through her backlist pretty much everything she's written is right up my alley. Old New York? Thriller? Suspense? Yes, please. 4

I was very pleasantly surprised by The Paragon Hotel. I expected a good read, but this far exceeded my expectations. I’m a fan of historical fiction, but this was something quite new. The plot was incredibly imaginative, bringing a whole new approach to telling a story about the 1920s. Lyndsay Faye’s characters are well-written, complex individuals. Alice is witty and strong, an unexpected feminine character given the time setting of the novel. The interactions between Alice and the other characters increased in interest for me given Alice’s tendency to employ “Nobody” and become someone entirely new in the blink of an eye. Truly, Faye created multiple protagonists in the development of Alice. Her supporting characters are (for the most part) just as thoroughly developed. The writing is quite smart, Faye is obviously well educated in addition to being a talented writer. The descriptions are thick with clever metaphor and simile. Her sentences flow well and there is minimal awkwardness in her style. She creates realistic conversations between characters of different backgrounds, ages, and education levels. My only complaint is that she overused the word “quelque”, a fairly minor flaw in the grand scheme of things. The book as a whole read easy and I quite enjoyed the back and forth chapter transition between “then” and “now”. Faye employed this technique very well and it helps to add to the suspense of the plot. The infusion of historical detail made the subject matter even more interesting. However, while she utilized factual events in the creation of her novel, this is not merely a retelling. This book carries a heavily creative story full of intrigue. There are twists and turns I didn’t expect and the story held my interest from start to finish. The Paragon Hotel was highly worth the read and rates highly among the books I’ve read this year.

Even though The Paragon Hotel is set in the 1920s, its publication could hardly be timed better. Alice, known affectionately (and not so affectionately) as "Nobody," flees New York after suffering a gunshot wound from one of the city's Italian gangs. She finds herself in Portland, Oregon, patched up by a doctor in the city's only all-black hotel. The chapters flit between past and present, piecing together Alice's history and documenting her growing affection for the lively residents of the Paragon Hotel. A disappearance allows Alice to put her mob talents to good use as she tries to dig for answers while the KKK closes in on Portland What I appreciated most about this book is that Faye turns an unflinching eye to race relations of a century ago without trying to craft a white savior. While Alice is involved, she's not in the story to rescue everyone, and she certainly learns a few harsh lessons along the way. If you've read Faye's other work, you know the depth of her research and her uncanny ability to capture voice, and this novel is no different.

Unfortunately there is a problem with reading this digital galley on my Nook. The print on every fourth page is tiny and unreadable. Sorry, I won't be able to post a review at this time.

I couldn't even finish this book due to it's overly flowery writing. It seems like most readers enjoyed the plot line, but I couldn't make it very far into the book due to the author's overwriting and descriptions like that of a train as a "vibrating coffin" or the main character's "bones clacking."

This was one of my most anticipated reads of the year. I am so glad I had a chance to read it. I love a good historical fiction novel but when you add in elements of mystery and the mafia and prohibition, you have got me hooked. Without giving anything away in the storyline there were so many surprising turns and elements and things that I had never thought about in history before reading this. A truly eye opening and marvelous read.

Wow, what a story! This historical fiction novel set in the 1920s features Alice "Nobody" James, who, after fleeing a life entrenched in the New York mafia, finds herself at Paragon Hotel, Portland's only all-black hotel. It weaves between Nobody's life in New York and the racism she witnesses as she is thrust into life at The Paragon Hotel. This novel is heartbreaking, interesting, and relevant. One of the things I love about historical fiction is learning something new, and this book taught me so much: about the Italian Mafia in New York, the Prohibition Era, and the rise of the KKK in Oregon (I had no idea Oregon was originally established as an all-white "utopia"-wow!). It's powerful and beautiful, and the only reason I can't give it five stars is the ending fell a little flat for me.

I absolutely loved this book. I've always been fascinated with gangsters and the mafia, and the 1920s in general, so this book was right up my alley. It was heartbreaking and exciting and surprising in so many ways as it wove back and forth between Nobody's life with the mafia in Harlem and her experiences when she is forced to flee that life and finds herself in Portland. There were so many historical details in this book that I didn't know before hand. The one that really surprised me the most was the racism and presence of the Klan in Oregon. I had no idea that any of that ever happened. It was fascinating to learn so much while I was reading a story I fell in love with. The only thing keeping this from being a 5 star book for me is the ending. After the beauty and tragedy and triumph of the rest of the book, it just fell a little flat for me. But even still, I did love this book. I even had a hard time putting it down. Definitely one of my top books I've read this year.

This is a marvelous story that illustrates the parallels between the oppression of Italian Americans by the Italian mafia in NY and the oppression of blacks in Oregon in the early 20th century. The story centers around Alice James whose young life becomes immersed in bootlegging. She has the uncanny ability to be come anyone and therefore Nobody. It allows her to spy on the corleonesi for the mafias archenemy. It works until she’s shot and is forced to flee. She meets Max, a black porter, on her train who whisks her off to the Paragon Hotel where she meets a cast of characters living in fear in a city that has outlawed blacks. The lives of those characters are surrounded by secrets until it all comes crashing down in tragedy and pain. But Alice finds the answers and ultimately begins the healing. This book made me laugh, cringe, gasp, and cry. The ending is completely unexpected. I never realized the racism and rise of the Klan in Oregon. It was not concentrated in the south and in some ways the complete banning of blacks in Portland especially was more devastating. It was a surprise for me

The story was interesting but a little slow. There were some twists that I didn’t see coming. I wish that Nobody’s New York life would have infringed more on her Portland experience.

This book and its characters will stay with me for a while. Twist and turns abound. I loved both stories (Then and Now) but wanted more from New York (Then). Learned a lot of history. I will buy this book and lend it out or just recommend it.

"Nobody" is a Harlem-born Italian woman fleeing a troubled past, only to find herself at the Paragon Hotel in Portland, Oregon, the only all-black hotel in the city. Here, she quickly builds friendships with the other hotel inhabitants, while facing the realities of segregation, an influx of KKK activity, and the mystery of a vanished child. The Paragon Hotel weaves together Nobody's life in Portland while providing her backstory through frequent flashbacks to her life in Harlem. This book had me hooked in the first few pages, and kept me interested and intrigued right until the end.

I admit, I'd never heard of the historical events on which this novel is based--that Oregon was founded as a kind of paradise for white people, for example, the only state to have passed a provision encouraging the punishment of any African-Americans who lived there, in an active attempt to get all of them to leave. All of the issues in The Paragon Hotel (a location based, the author tells us, upon the Golden West Hotel, which existed from 1906 to 1931 in Portland) are relevant today, from racist policing to gender identity to women striving to have agency over their own lives. There's plenty to admire in the ambitions of this book. However. The whole narrative reinforces the white savior archetype found in so many books by white authors, and it leaves a bad taste in today's artistic climate. The main character, a white woman who goes by the name of Nobody, enters the world of these black characters (through the most unlikely of several unlikely turns in the plot), inserts herself in their lives, wins over a handsome and dignified African-American lover, uses her money to improve several of their situations, and overall spends the novel as a kind of scrappy benefactress. And (although I've enjoyed the author's previous historical mystery series featuring Timothy Wilde) the characters in this book speak an odd, stilted version of 1920s American English that isn't at all recognizable to me. I think many people will like this book, and I see it has garnered some very positive reviews here. But regretfully I can't count myself as one of its fans.

Escaping one world of problems and landing in the middle of a completely new type of world with its own peculiar problems, Nobody has much to adapt to in Lyndsay Faye's The Paragon Hotel.  In 1921, when Prohibition is going strong, Nobody, aka Alice James, is fleeing across the country via train with a bullet wound as she escapes a deadly situation of gang control over illicit drugs and alcohol in her native Harlem. Traveling as far away as she can think, Nobody heads to Oregon and en route is befriended by Max, a black Pullman porter, who helps her when she needs medical attention and takes her to the Paragon Hotel upon arrival in Portland. In the only all-black hotel in the city, Nobody stirs up a fair amount of anxiety and concern as a white woman residing there as she convalesces. No stranger to diversity and liberal in her viewpoints, Nobody keenly observes the hotel's lodgers and the increasingly tense atmosphere growing in Portland for its black residents, which peaks when one of the young hotel residents, Davy Lee, goes missing. Nobody helps with the search for him and begins to uncover the many secrets intertwining the lives of the residents that paints a picture of just how and why he has disappeared.  A historical fiction story that encompasses numerous issues of the time, including some that have poignant echos to this day. The writing develops the characters well and imbues them with depth that's believable as motivation for their actions, as well as balancing plenty of witty, humorous remarks, heartwarming displays of intimacy, and tragic moments that smart. The complexity of the interwoven relationships that build into the fabric of the hotel and the resulting search for Davy Lee demonstrate the sense of community that is created within the confines of the hotel and the extent the characters are willing to go for one another. Shifting the narrative between "then" in the New York City mafia scene and the "now" of the speakeasies around Portland, the story as presented by Nobody coalesces into a tableau of finding a family or community you belong to and with. Overall, I'd give it a 4 out of 5 stars.

The Paragon Hotel is one of the most original books I have read in the past decade. It is heartwarming, funny, and tragic all at the same time. This book puts you right in the middle of the action while jumping between multiple timelines. The books hops between the past in Harlem and the present in Portland where the main character, Alicia, is fleeing some heinous circumstances. All of the characters in this novel are engaging, but not without their flaws that really make this book rich. There are so many twists throughout this book that I don't want to divulge too much of the plot in the review. This book tackles some really big issues in some gentle and interesting ways. I really enjoyed it and will be recommending it to everyone. It is a well-written and well-researched story that left me wanting more.

The first pages had me hooked. The writing is sensitive, haunting and evocative. The character Max, I felt, was written a bit like Mammy in “Gone With the Wind”—sympathetic yet patronizing. I did not like the flashback back-and-forth; in this case linear storytelling would make more sense. Alice flees Mafia drama in NYC only to find racial drama in Portland. I liked the book and overall story, though some bits felt contrived.

FTC disclosure: I would like to thank Penguin Random House for providing me with an advance reader copy via access to the galley for free through the First to Read program. I thoroughly enjoyed this book! I would recommend it to anyone, especially people who enjoy historical fiction, particularly within the time periods of the 1920s and 1930s and within the setting of the U.S. It really takes you back in time. The writing style was excellent. Though I was definitely absorbed into the story from the beginning, I did have a slight bit of difficulty following at first, but ultimately really appreciated the detailed descriptions and changing POV, as well as the dialogue, which was well written to reflect deep emotion and the social climate of the time. The characters were rich as well as the plot, which made for very interesting revelations. There were so many intriguing layers within the plot, including cultural and social dynamics that added incredible dimension to the mystery of the story and brought an interesting perspective to well known events that I hadn't realized before. I would really like to listen to this via audiobook as I think it would be a great one. MY FAVORITE LINES: To be revealed upon final publication.

Based on Portland Oregon's historical Golden West Hotel, this fascinating novel is about a rough life for a young lady fleeing the illegal distribution of liquor in NYC during the roaring 20's. Miss Alice James is NOT a wholesome young lady. She has been wounded by a bullet in Harlem and has journeyed to a safer, but more racially segregated, residence at the Paragon Hotel in Portland. The author has a theatrical style of writing, sometimes chirpy and sometimes snide, making it a fresh, breezy read.

 


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