Review: Hotel World – Ali Smith

hotel worldHotel World was an interesting book but probably my least favourite of Ali Smith’s work that I’ve read. It was still great, I still loved it, but there was just something that I didn’t click with in this.

This book follows 5 PoVs; the ghost of a woman who dies when she following getting in a dumbwaiter at the hotel, a homeless woman who begs outside the hotel, a receptionist at the hotel, a journalist who stays at the hotel and also, the sister of the girl who dies. Now, Smith’s writing really works for multiple perspective writing. The stream of consciousness really gives each of these characters an individual, distinctive voice and she brings the individual threads of their stories together so well.

However, at times it all felt fragile. I think that was intentional. The chapter from Clare’s PoV was hard to read, it was 20-something pages of unpunctuated stream of consciousness and it was intentionally difficult to read – Clare is grieving, you can’t punctuate grief. It’s choppy and rather than the word ‘and’ there are numerous ampersands which, really, is quite effective and clever and does convey the emotion that Clare is feeling at that time.

My favourite section was the first, told from Sara’s perspective, or rather her ghost’s perspective. That section was just so beautiful and fluid, I didn’t put it down. Else was a little more difficult but still, nonetheless, interesting. Lise I could connect with on a more personal level – that section hit home a lot more than I would have liked. Clare, as I said, I found difficult to read but nonetheless understand why it was difficult and finally, the last bit, was a beautiful way to wrap it all up.

Ali Smith is a phenomenal writer. Her use of language is just so clever and I always finish on of her books, marvelling at her skill. It was unique, it wasn’t what I was expecting, I’m glad I read it but it’s not my favourite of her work; I prefer all four of her other novels that I have read to this. For that reason, it’s a 3/5 with a comment of ‘read this if you’re at least somewhat familiar with her work, don’t start here’!

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