I unfortunately feel like this is a book you might have to read a second time to enjoy it fully. I was very captivated by the description of the story but unfortunately the story itself when I read it fell flat. This is not to that I would not give this book a second chance! Thank you to the author and publisher and netgalley for letting me read and advanced copy of this book! 2.5
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This was my first historical fiction and to say my first experience was better than I expected is an understatement. I might read more of this authors books in the future.
The 1940s was a time of fear, fierceness, and it showed America what it was made of. This is where the story begins, with Hazel stuck in Kansas, but wanting to make a life for herself. As the war rages on, she takes an opportunity to work in California building aircraft. However, once the war is over, women are no longer needed in the workforce, and Hazel is unsure of what to do next.
That's when she finds herself at the Hotel Laguna, looking for something, even if she doesn't know what it is yet. She certainly doesn't see Hanson Radcliffe, a reclusive artist famous for his paintings as well as for his relationship with a famous movie star, coming into her life, but once he does, she is change forever. Not only does she make important friendships, she also discovers more about herself and how she needs the community that she has landed in.
Overall, this is a great read for those who like historical fiction. Hazel's experience before, during, and after WWII is like many young women who threw off the aprons and put on the overalls, proving they could do the jobs that were typically reserved for men, but were also quickly dismissed when those men returned from the war. Although the protagonist doesn't always take the easy route laid in front of her, she is someone that readers can connect with, especially when it comes to making big, life-changing decisions that could not only impact her life, but the lives of those around her.
I received a free copy of this book from the Author, Publisher, NetGalley for my honest review. I loved this book and felt that it was a different way to look at WWII. This is a fictional book which follow Hazel a woman who moves to California as she wants to help with the war. We follow her throughout the war and after everyone is supposed to return to their “Normal Roles” will Hazel?…..
This story follows Hazel during two different points in her life during World War II and after. Hazel works on an assembly line as one of the riveters and absolutely loves the work.After the war once the men came home Hazel found herself jobless and only able to make much less with the jobs available. Hazel hears about a job as an artist assistant in Laguna Beach. When she shows up she meets Hason Radcliffe an eccentric artist who requires her to be a nude model as well as an assistant. Hazel storms off embarrassed but is talked into it by a local barman Jimmy. Hazel accepts the position and we follow Hazel throughout.
This was my favorite kind of historical fiction where it is just a slice of life during a historic time. I feel like this book did an amazing job at showing Hazel perspective and her struggles with wanting to continue the life the war brought but knows she can’t because you don’t want war forever. I really enjoyed the writing in this one as well it was fast paced and descriptive but didn’t slow down the pacing. This is my first book by this author but hope to pick up more from their backlist in the future! I would like to thank net galley and the publishers for a chance to read this book for an honest review.
A rich, descriptive historical fiction. Easy to read, with a satisfying ending overall. Loved that there was a bit of mystery and romance, which kept it interesting!
I love a strong female protagonist in a historical fiction and this book delivered! I enjoyed the dual timelines and found they really helped show more of Hazel’s personality and what led her to Laguna Beach
The setting of this book drew me in so thoroughly, it was so magical and full of life. The beach really felt like its own character throughout the story. I loved the MC Hazel’s determination, not letting anything stop her from reaching her dreams of independence. Although her poor decisions were frustrating, I loved how everything worked out for her in its own way, exactly as it was meant to.
This book is so well written and incredibly descriptive, I found myself able to picture every piece of it like watching a movie. I have yet to read a Nicola Harrison book I didn’t love - I highly recommend this book and anything else written by her!
Read this if you:
* Need a beach setting to get you through the gloomy weather
* Have big-city dreams
* Are a historical fiction buff
First of all this cover is utter perfection. Second of all so is this story! Loved this one!
Thank you #StMartinsPress and #NetGalley for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review
A thought provoking novel of a young woman who goes from her Midwestern town to California to help with the war effort and do her part. Then things/opportunities change when the war ends and women "are put back in their place." A good read, something new!
I was not familiar with Nicola Harrison's previous works so I was not sure what to expect. I was initially drawn to this book because of the cover. I think the cover is gorgeous and draws the reader to the book.
Sadly, this book fell flat for me. After about 50% of the book, I have decided to not waste my time. I am so bored with the story. I felt like the story of Hazel Francis during the war was much more interesting than the story when she moves to the Laguna Beach community. There are too many books out there to spend time on something that falls short for me.
I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Allt thoughts and opinions are my own.
Another Nicola Harrison historical fiction novel that I quite enjoyed. I don’t think we got into Hazel’s time on an aircraft as much as I thought it would but I enjoyed the time we spent with her as an artist’s muse. I have been pretty burnt out on WW2 fiction but this provides enough of a unique perspective that I didn’t mind
This was another wonderful historical read by this author. I truly felt like I was living the main characters life and being in the hotel Laguna seemed like it would have been so fun in that time. I would love to see this adapter into a film.
I wish there had been more about Hazel’s time working on the aircraft’s as a riveter during WWII but we did get to understand how hard it was for women to go back to before the war. I think it was especially hard for single women who had found their place in the working world only to be pushed aside. I liked the relationship between Hazel and Hansen, how it grew from wariness to a trusting friendship.
If you're looking for a quick, compulsive, bingeable historical fiction novel, this is it. I loved Hazel as a character, I thought the setting was so iconic. The dual storylines really kept me engaged. It's definitely not your average WWII book. Pick it up for the fun cover, stay for the amazing story. I think I'll pick up MONTAUK next!
Nicola Harrison, St. Martin’s Press, 2023, $29.00, hb, 288pp, 9781250277381
Hazel Francis is a heroine for any woman who has been told, “Well, no, you can’t do that.” She’s an intrepid soul whose headlong sense of adventure leads her to her first sexual encounter, with a boyhood friend who now assumes they will marry. He leaves for war, she writes him a Dear John letter, he is killed, and the sense of it being her fault (another thing many women will empathize with) haunts her.
The war offers a chance to flee Kansas to do meaningful work in California. In Los Angeles Hazel builds airplanes and regains a sense of self until the war ends and all the women are shooed home to have babies and keep house, the jobs saved for returning men. Rootless, jobless, and penniless, she lands in the artists’ colony of Laguna Beach, with work as assistant and model to a crusty artist with another long-ago death on his conscience.
With engaging characters and a romance to complicate things, Hotel Laguna is a spirited tale of a woman who insists on being her own person without putting overly twenty-first century ideas in a mid-twentieth-century head. A missing painting and a Hollywood starlet fallen out of favor add mystery to the mix. The first-person prose is skillful and the dialog deft. A reader who enjoys a well-drawn sense of place will appreciate settings like the Laguna Beach art scene of the late forties and the wartime aircraft plants where women built the planes the men would fly, until they were told they were no longer needed.
This review ran in the August 2023 issue of Historical Novel Reviews
In this historical novel set mostly in 1946, main character Hazel escaped her ordinary life in Kansas during the war to go to California and work on building airplanes. When she loses her job after the war is over, she doesn’t want to return home to an ordinary life, and ends up in Laguna Beach where she gets a job as an assistant to a (fictional) famous but difficult artist. Along with Hazel trying to figure herself out, there’s a little romance, and a little mystery about a scandal in the artist’s past and a missing painting, along with a portrait of life in this quirky artistic town where they put on an annual Pageant of the Masters (a live tableau of famous paintings).
This was on the lighter side for historical fiction, but yet also was a very slow read for a book that’s under 300 pages. I enjoyed the story, but in addition to the slow pace, it felt a tad underdeveloped at times. Nonetheless, I would definitely read another book by her. And think fans of authors like Beatriz Williams and Melanie Benjamin would enjoy this one too.
I will say I was disappointed that my ARC did not include an author’s note or historical note as I would have liked to know more about what into the historical backdrop for this one. This came out in June so is available now but was checked out at all my libraries or I would have borrowed it just to look for an end note!
I don't read many historical fiction books from this time period, but I truly enjoyed it. The period following World War II was definitely a time of adjustment for many, including Hazel. Having spent World War II fixing planes and suddenly losing that job when the war ended, finding a new place in this world is especially difficult.
I loved the grouchy employer. I don't know why, but attempting to soften someone who is grouchy is always a troupe I enjoy reading. It helped there was also a love interest to keep Hazel's spirits up during this uncertain time. The setting was fun and flirtatious and filled with so much possibility.
Anyone looking for one last beach read before winter, this is definitely a book to pull off the shelf.
In HOTEL LAGUNA, Nicola Harrison creates a strong female protagonist in a time when women were expected to go back to being wives and mothers when the war ended, and the men came home to reclaim their jobs. Hazel was alone and wanted more from life than marrying the hometown boy, so she joins the women doing their part for the war and heads to California to work on planes. She loves the job and when the men return, she’s determined to find a way to continue. Her money is low when she hops a bus from LA to San Diego, getting off in Laguna Beach. Homeless, she befriends a bartender and by sheer guts, becomes a model/assistant for a reclusive artist.
I love watching the relationship between Hazel and Hanson evolve from boss and employee to friends and confidants. It was also interesting watching Hazel grow and become more confident and an integral part of the community. The setting sparkles as another character, even more interesting because the Hotel Laguna, Laguna Beach, and the Pageant of the Masters all still exist. I will have to plan a day trip down the coast to visit all the sites Harrison has immortalized in the novel.
This is the third novel I have read by Nicola Harrison and I enjoy the way each has given me a perspective on history that I had not considered before.
Thank you to the publisher for the opportunity to read an advanced copy of the novel. All opinions are my own and freely given.
#HotelLaguna #NicolaHarrison #StMartinsPress
I really enjoyed this somewhat historical fiction story set in Southern California. I loved the setting, the imagery on the cover and the characters were well drawn out and very interesting. The ending kind of didn't ring totally true for me but overall this was an enjoyable visit to days past in SoCal. Thanks for a copy of this one!
First, the cover is so pretty and definitely eye-catching! As soon as I saw it, I wanted to know more about this book!
And the book itself... completely surprised me (in a good way!). I tend to avoid historical simply due to not being able to stay interested but this book got my attention with the "Rosie the Riveters" aspect and I found myself fully immersed in the story. A fun read, great characters, definitely recommend picking this one up.
Thank you to NetGalley, the author and St. Martin's Press for providing me with an ARC copy.
All thoughts and opinions are my own.