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Hot Stew

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Member Reviews

Thanks to Algonquin and NetGalley for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

I knew that Fiona Mozley was shortlisted for the Booker a year or two back, so I figured she had some chops. This book is one of those large cast of characters in a big city kind of stories. There are definite heroes and villains, and a few in-betweeners who could go either way. Basically, a bunch of character studies stitched together into a larger story about Soho and the changes being wrought upon the neighborhood, with a few observations about the haves and the have-nots tossed into the salad for good measure.

The nutmeat of the story centers on two sex workers (actually one is a former sex worker who basically does domestic stuff for the other) and their fight to remain in their home atop the brothel which employs them. Trying to remove them is Agatha, who has, with the help of her mother, edged out her half-sisters from their late gangster father's fortune. Agatha is looking to make bank by tearing down the brothel and its neighbors and replacing it with high end apartments and restaurants. Agatha is drawn almost as a Bond villain, a bit cartoonish for my taste.

There are many, many other players and we go through the book meeting them and seeing how their lives weave in with the other characters'. It's a good enough story, but basically one you have read a version of before. The writing is capable and the character studies are interesting, bit since there are so many characters, we don't get too deep into any of them, which is a little frustrating. 

Overall the book is fine, but I don't know that I would seek out Mozley's work in the future.
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A rich, illustrative tour through contemporary London, HOT STEW is a literary marvel that proves Mozley is a fantastic writer.
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"Hot Stew" was very interesting in that it's about a modern-day brothel, but kept me thinking it was written way back in the day. It takes place in Soho, a neighborhood of London.

There were a lot of characters to keep track of. And this level of detail made me have to go back and reread quite a few chapters. But it's mostly about Precious, a 40-something sex worker who does things on her terms. Richard, one of her clients. And Agatha, a building owner, who wants to evict Precious and her business.

The writing was well done. It just didn't make me want to root for anyone. So my rating is based on whether I'd recommend it to a friend. It's not for everyone.
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Soho is a changing neighborhood in London.  These days it is home to those who don't have anywhere else to go.  There are drug addicts, prostitutes, unemployed and struggling workers.  But neighborhoods are ever changing and there are those who think Soho is due for gentrification and a makeover.
Agatha is one of those who want things to change.  She is the recipient of a huge fortune from a father she never met, her mother having married an elderly man with a fortune who died during her pregnancy.  Agatha owns a building in Soho that with its central location, she believes would be the perfect place for condos.  The sticking point is that the inhabitants of her building don't want to leave.

Precious and Tabitha are two of those inhabitants.  They are sex workers by choice and this has been their home for many years.  They share the building with a group of homeless people and drug addicts in the basement, a restaurant, and other people struggling on the margins of life.  They are determined not to be pushed out and Precious starts a protest and movement to fight Agatha.  There are other characters.  There is a former enforcer for Agatha's father.  There is an actor who isn't sure he wants to be one.  There is a man pining for his ex-girlfriend who has inherited wealth he tires not to use.  There is a struggling magician who makes his living with tawdry tricks in bars and a woman who is so far gone that few notice when she disappears.  Together they struggle to maintain their precarious hold on life in the only place they know.

Fiona Mozeley's first novel, Elmet, was a Booker Prize finalist.  As in that novel, this second one is concerned with the ideas of ownership of property and what becomes of those pushed out by the constant pursuit of profit.  The characters are finely drawn although some are mysterious and remote and the novel raises questions of social justice and the rights of those less blessed with money and power.  It also explores the thoughts of those engaged in sex work and whether such work is sometimes a valid choice.  This book is recommended for literary fiction readers.
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Thanks to Netgalley and Algonquin for the review copy. I really enjoyed the writing, Mozley is a funny writer and the observations made were funny and darkly accurate. I have already purchased her first novel, I want to read more from Mozley!
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This book wasn't for me.  I can see the value and where others will enjoy it, the writing itself is great.  The story would have benefited from more research.
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I didn’t realize this was a sequel when I requested it. I spent the first half slightly confused for this reason, but found I wasn’t interested enough to hunt down the first book.
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My Highly Caffeinated Thought: With an assortment of diverse characters, this carefully constructed story deals with social, gender, and class issues in a thought-provoking and discernibly clever way.

HOT STEW is a timely and intelligent novel centered around London’s Soho. Mozley creates a cast of characters that on the surface should never have their lives intersect. However, because of one location and a few intersecting relationships, their lives will be touched by each other even if they don’t realize it.

Through the sheer power of her words, the author shines a light on many issues facing society as a whole by not shying away from any difficult subject matters. In fact, Mozley delves into everything from brothels to gentrification to human trafficking to drug use. Not to mention the diversity in age, wealth bracket, sexuality, and cultural background of the characters. The tale told about all those who live in these pages is one with candor and grit.

To be honest, this book was just as eye-opening as it was entertaining. It is a complicated tale chronicling the lives of people who read as real. The world is not a fair place and for many, it is just about making it from one day to another with the hope that there will be some level of contentment within moments had. HOT STEW shares this side of life.
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Thank you @algonquinbooks for inviting me to share a review of Hot Stew by Fiona Mozley. Hot Stew is available in bookstores April 20th!

Hot Stew was not exactly what I thought it would be an sadly I think that affected my enjoyment a little bit. What I thought was going to be a novel about a brothel in Soho and the fight of two workers to keep it open, turned out to be a collection of shorter interconnected views from many different people related to the brothel in various ways. And while I enjoyed most of the viewpoints, there were a few that did not keep my interest at all. I kept feeling my interest draw back to Precious and Tabitha, two workers in the brothel, and I did wish to learn more about them and their lives as sex workers.

In the end, I liked most of Hot Stew.
I think I would have liked more of it if I hadn’t wrongly settled myself in for one continuous story rather than the more mentally taxing knitting of various viewpoints.
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DNF @ 31%

This was just not working for me. Too many characters, all over the place. I could not get invested with anyone really - other than Precious - but then the story would shift and take ages of stuff I didn’t care about to get back to it. There are too many other things I want to read more, so letting this one go. Probably just a “me” thing - since objectively it seemed fine enough.
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Hot Stew is a unique read. The author did a great job of bringing the setting to life. Initially I was drawn in by the relationship between Precious and Tabitha. What I wasn't expecting was to get to know a whole cast of characters. As much as it was interesting to see the different stories unfold I found that I really just wanted to see more from Precious and Tabitha. If I could change anything about the novel that's where I would, less individual stories and more around the central plot.
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Wealth and inheritance are something I have been thinking about a lot lately in terms of current events and Hot Stew brings these things to life in a new and compelling way. An impressive sophomore novel!
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Hot Stew by Fiona Mozley won't be everyone's cup of tea. Mozley recaptures her stark writing from Elmet in Hot Stew but adds it to a multiple narrative voice novel that explores issues of class and property and ownership against the backdrop of a brothel in London. 

Many thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book. All thoughts are my own.
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This is going to be a “my thoughts so far”/ first impressions kind of review, which I might elaborate on once I’ve finished the book. I started reading it yesterday and I haven’t advanced as much as I would’ve wanted to, so I can’t say what this is about. I can say that I’m enjoying the writing and how the author is sort of going in a spiral (I’m sure there’s a term for that in literature) and introducing different characters, settings, and seemingly superficial plot-points, which will probably make up a complex and very interesting story. 
Update: I finished the book and really enjoyed it. The writing style reminded me of one of my favorite Spanish-speaking authors. I think this is one of the most complex novels I’ve read in English.
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Not for me. I can see the potential in the writing but I could not make it further than the first couple of chapters.
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To live right up under the nose, is to go unobserved until the crap hits the fan. That’s the premise here. Precious and Tabitha have lived and worked in Soho. A brothel due to be demolished is home to these two. The impending gentrification rubs the locals to respond comically but resolute. The characters areoutspoken and long residents who feel they have a say still in how their neighborhood should grow. Funny and real .
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Out April 20th, Hot Stew by Fiona Mozley is an addictive and fascinating story.  Set in London's Soho area, this book introduces us to Precious and Tabitha, two women working in an old brothel.  They are not happy when they find out that millionaire Agatha Howard wants to convert their brothel, a place they consider home, into a luxury condos. Yep, Agatha wants to gentrify the neighborhood and looks like this building is her ticket.  Except, the people who reside in Soho are not keen on losing their workplace, their home, their bit of history.  So, they set out to make things difficult for Agatha.  Yep, a class war erupts and it makes for quite the story. 

Mozley has written an engaging and interesting story about gentrification, class, ownership, and identity. She's created an unforgettable cast of characters that will intrigue you.  Her vivid and realistic portrayal of London is spot on and makes you feel as if you are visiting the city.  And the story she's written showcases her storytelling prowess. Hot Stew is unputdownable.  It's a story that will captivate you from start to finish. I would definitely recommend this book to fans of Mozley and anyone looking for their next great read - you will LOVE this book!
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I loved Elmet so I have been excited for this for a while, and it's a great follow up. It has the same feeling of being a straightforward drama at its core (and I wouldn't be surprised if either book ended up being adapted as a miniseries or something), but the story also has an elevated, almost mythical feeling thanks to Mozley's thoughtful, patient writing.
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Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC of this title. I have mixed feelings about this book. I found some of the characters and storylines to be completely engrossing & could have read an entire book set from their perspective, while other narrators felt like a challenge to connect to. I like how all the threads wove together, however, I feel like too much time was spent on the buildup and the ending was rushed.
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“And it’s home. She doesn’t totally know what a home is but she guesses it’s got something to do with friends and family and also something to do with being in a place that you feel has left its mark on you, for better or for worse, and also being in a place that you’ve left your mark upon, for better or for worse. A place that remembers your you’ve been there, that bears your imprint, like a squashy chair you’ve sit in a bunch of times.” 

In Fiona Mozley’s, Hot Stew, we travel to Soho in London where we meet a cast of colorful and diverse characters from pimps and prostitutes to junkies and magicians to shiesty business owners and people looking and striving to do better. On the one hand, Soho has become home to the forgotten, the misplaced, the rejected. And on the other hand, it has become a problem, for the owners of the tenements who have plans to gentrify the community, for the women who find work there and know that safety is a larger issue, and especially for those who have found themselves victim to drug taking and sex-trafficking. 

It is here we meet Tabitha and Precious, both in the trade and who live and work in the brothel that operates in Soho. The brothel has garnered an unexpected amount of attention recently from those for and against its existence. We also meet Agatha who has been willed the building from an estranged deceased father and has made the decision to raise it and rebuild, but not without much dissent. When a huge accident takes place that involves the brothel and it’s tenants, all involved are called to question what it means to them. 

I really enjoyed so much about this book. The phenomenal storytelling was consistent throughout. It is descriptive in a way that plants readers in Soho and on the very streets and buildings that are controversially the talk of the town. Hot Stew highlights the inequalities relating to wealth, gender, politics, gentrification, and the multitude of things that women must do in this world for equality. For home. 

Thank you to NetGalley ( @netgalley ), Fiona Mozley ( @fionamozley ), and Algonquin Books ( @algonquinbooks ) for inviting me to participate in the blog tour for this book and for sharing a copy in exchange for an honest review.
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