The Third Hotel
I read the Kindle version.
This book holds the story of how one woman worked through her grief. The cause being the untimely, unexpected death of her husband. She travels to Havana, Cuba, on her own for a pre-planned “work trip” she should have taken with her husband, where she finds him, shockingly, alive. Or is he?
What I Did Like
The scenes of Havana are rendered beautifully.
During most of the book, it’s almost as if she is in shock, denial, or in such a state of mourning she isn’t functioning rationally. The abstract, disconnected flow of this book reflects that disjointed feeling one can have when something traumatic happens. Time stops and all rational thought ceases to function. I think Laura Van Den Berg captured that element quite well.
What I Didn’t Like
It was extremely ambiguous and somewhat hard to follow. The main character, Claire, shifted gears from paragraph to paragraph. I almost gave up on this on several times, but I had to find out if her husband was real or a ghost. Reflecting back upon it, the whole trip and her experiences were rather unbelievable. Additionally, the characters didn’t feel like solid elements – they were watery unsubstantial images in my mind. The end of the book was left very open ended and offered little closure whatsoever.
Should You Read It?
This is a very ethereal story. In some ways was more about feeling than what was happening. If you enjoy “stream of consciousness” style writing, books about coming to terms with death, this might be for you. It’s not my cup of tea, but it has won an array of literary awards and I know there’s much to be unearthed from it.
Laura van den Berg was born and raised in Florida. She is the author of two collections of stories, The Isle of Youth (FSG, 2013) and What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us (Dzanc Books, 2009), and the novels Find Me (FSG, 2015) and The Third Hotel (FSG, 2018).
Learn more about her at: