Reviewed by Jennifer Joyce
Lily Harris was just fourteen when she gave birth to a daughter. She never took to motherhood and, by the age of seventeen, she had left the girl behind in England and moved to America for a new start. Lily’s daughter was brought up by her father and never heard from her mother again. But now, seventeen herself, Lily’s daughter receives a phone call from LA, letting her know that Lily is dead.
Without telling her father, she sets off for LA and finds herself at The Pink Hotel, owned by Lily and her husband, Richard. The wake is being held at the hotel but she doesn’t let anyone know that she is Lily’s daughter and instead steals a suitcase belonging to Lily, which contains photos, documents and love letters. With the suitcase in hand, the girl sets off on a journey of discovery, tracking down ex-lovers and friends of Lily to better understand the mother who had left her behind.
I was quite intrigued when I started to read The Pink Hotel. Who was Lily and what made her leave her three-year-old daughter and seemingly forget she existed? So I was left feeling a little empty when it transpired there wasn’t much to Lily’s life at all. I was expecting some sort of hidden past or buried secrets but I found nothing of any real interest.
I thought the girl (who isn’t named in the book) could be a bit of a strange character who is obviously damaged from her past, though her tough-girl exterior would never allow her to admit that. She shows a great deal of courage as she travels alone to LA, tracking down people who knew her mother while trying to stay one step ahead of Richard, who wants his wife’s possessions back. The girl goes through quite a few ups and downs during her travels in LA and while I found Lily’s story disappointing, her daughter’s was far better, though it could go off on a tangent at times and I found myself switching off.
The Pink Hotel has some good moments but it wasn’t a gripping tale for me and I found it a bit grim overall. Lily’s LA life is in no way glamorous and her story wasn’t particularly interesting.
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