It’s the summer of 1941. Europe is at war, but New York's Thousand Islands are at the height of the tourist season. Kennet Fiskare, son of a hotel proprietor, is having the summer of a lifetime, having fallen deeply in love with a Swedish-Brazilian guest named Astrid Virtanen. But the affair is cut short and the young lovers permanently parted, first by Astrid’s family obligations, then by America’s entry into the war.
The rigors of military life help dull his heartache, but when Kennet’s battalion reaches France, he is thrown into the crucible of front line combat. As his unit crosses Europe, from the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium to Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria, Kennet falls into a different kind of love: the intense camaraderie between soldiers. It's a bond fierce yet fragile, vital yet expendable, here today and gone tomorrow. Sustained by his friendships, Kennet both witnesses and commits the unthinkable atrocities of warfare, altering his view of the world and himself. To the point where a second chance with Astrid in peacetime might be the most terrifying and consequential battle he’s ever fought.
With her signature blend of soul-stirring prose and emotional complexity, Laqueur takes readers on a journey through events that shape an American family’s weakest moments and finest hours. A Small Hotel illuminates the experience of ordinary people thrown into extraordinary circumstances, and their once-in-a-generation camaraderie, courage and resiliency. It’s a novel for the world, a heartbreaking, uplifting story of family, love and human endurance.
Average rating from 8 members
A Small Hotel by Suanne Laqueur is an absolute masterpiece. And I do not say this lightly. Suanne has created a world that is real. She immersed you into her storyline so seamlessly that you feel like you are a part of it. I have not read an author in years that can capture so many emotions with such emphasis and make it seem so effortless. This is one book filled with so many emotions and teachings and truths, that you will not want to set it down. 5 Fish Stars
Of all the historical romance novels I've read, this is the first that has me holding my breath and happy crying over a lit cigarette and a Zippo lighter. You are fully immersed in the character's development when reading this novel; you can see and feel what's occurring during the war, both internally and externally. I am truly baffled at how swept into this novel I found myself. If you have any interest in historical fiction and romance during this era, you must read this book.
Another great installment in Ms. Laqueur’s books about the Fiskare family. While the Fish Tales focuses on Erik and Daisy, Will and Lucky, A Small Hotel brings the reader to Clayton, NY, on the precipice of WWII. Kennet Fiskare, Erik’s grandfather, takes center stage. As always, Suanne’s writing ties past to future. Her skill lies in telling magnificent stories about all the different ways people can love each other. She handles trauma and healing with incredible deftness and respect. Newcomers to the world of the Fiskares can dive in without having to read Laqueur’s other books, but be warned: there’s a rabbit hole waiting, and you’ll be a sobbing pile on the floor when you come out the other side. Thank me later.
Suanne Laqueur has created a darling family whose world is alive with rich cultural and historical details! Parts 1 and 3 of the book are engaging to read but part 2 takes a different turn both stylistically and in content. Thankfully, the wrap up is worth it! My rating is 3.5, stars rounded up to 4. Thank you to NetGalley and Canoe Tree Press for the opportunity to read and review.
A few Christmases ago I dug into my first Suanne Laqueur novel and from there went through everything on her backlist as quickly as I could. I've enjoyed every single thing she's written and A Small Hotel is another absorbing read that I now want to give to all of my reader friends. I'll be honest, I am usually pretty strategic when I read her novels because I know these two things to be true: 1. It's going to be an emotional reading experience so I need to have the mental space for that kind of journey. 2. I'm going to be useless to do anything else while I'm reading her novel. A Small Hotel continued with those two truths--it was emotional and I was absolutely worthless when it came to doing life things. Within the first pages I was completely taken with the entire Fiskare family. Their familial bonds, their kindness, how they were each other's friends and confidantes and while also their siblings/uncle/father. Their bond reminded me a lot of my own family and extended family and it just felt like home to me; being in this world she created was warm and loving and familiar. I recognized so much of our family in theirs, which only made my investment in the narrative of Kennet and his observations about life, his family, his love, the war, and the world that much more. I fell in love with everyone he did, I laughed for him, at him and with him, and was devastated when he was. Suanne Laqueur's attention to detail, the obvious investment of time to research, and basically the entire construction and craftmanship of the novel from characters to dialogue to plot were all done exceedingly well. Because of all of this, reading A Small Hotel was just such a treat and it was really hard to get to the end and know there wasn't another page to read. It looks like this may be the first of several novels with this family and to say that I'm eager and excited to read whatever comes next, is a huge understatement. If you are new to Suanne Laqeuer's writing, start now and start here; I think you'll love A Small Hotel.
Ahhhh… The Small Hotel…the cover drew me in, the description snagged me and the story itself completely entangled me and didn’t let me go until I finished it. The tight-knit Fiskare family runs a small hotel in Clayton, New York, by a river that serves both pleasure and work. As the family grows they hire a young Marta to help out with the house keeping. Young Kennet is fascinated by a picture of Marta’s young niece, Astrid, who’s eyes seem to follow him everywhere. Twelve years later Astrid comes for a month long visit and Kennet discovers this fascination was not just one sided. As all of the women of the hotel are known for their kindness, Astrid too is a kind and endearing woman. When war comes marching into their lives, the brothers join the fight to battle not only the evil that is happening but the battles of their own headaches of lost love and family. The war was hard to read but the pain and friendship kept me from skimming. The characters deserved my complete attention. I reviewed this book for free from NetGalley. I devoured this book and it’s wonderful characters who won’t leave me for a long time. This was a five star read for me!!