Christy Ku reviews The Honeymoon Hotel by Hester Browne: 'predictable but fabulous'.
Welcome to the Bonneville Hotel, a former refuge for royalty and movie stars. Full of beautiful suites, ballrooms and a glamorous history, the hotel is being transformed into wedding venue with the work of Events Manager, Rosie. Focused and ambitious, she tries to live her ideal London life. She has a respected food critic, Dominic, as a boyfriend and is in charge of the biggest, high-profile wedding the hotel has ever seen; there's nothing to stop her. Until, of course, she stumbles across a half-naked man in the honeymoon suite; Joe, the eccentric and outspoken son of the hotel owner...
was the perfect book to be reading on the train home after attending a London wedding show with my sisters (the eldest is to be married, Miss Austen). Upon reading the blurb, I was worried that it would have a generic business-woman chick-lit plot. We know what that is: the typical ‘I-have-no-time-my-for-own-love-life’ female protagonist suddenly meets the gorgeous (but annoying) guy and they argue for every chapter...until they ultimately end up together. The plot was exactly that, and entirely predictable. And it was utterly fabulous.
We know what’s going to happen in the story. Browne addresses the problem of this clichéd plot commonly found in so many similar books by challenging it in the very first paragraph of chapter one; “People make a lot of assumptions about wedding planners. Either we’re hopeless romantics (I’m not). Or we’re terminal singletons (I live with my boyfriend)”. She sets the story up to be different, but ultimately it falls back into the typical plot line anyway. But, everything is written and created so amusingly that it makes the book such a fun read.
Rosie is a professional, super-organised glazomaniac and a workaholic. I completely relate to her, and I’m sure many working women would too. She’s dedicated, knows what she wants (to become the hotel manager) and works for it. Whilst reading the novel, the #BanBossy campaign suddenly made complete sense. Rosie is fantastic at her work. She’s authoritative and meticulous about the tiny details but, after all, . Having Joe stride in and call her “bossy” was fantastically irritating.
Unfortunately, the story went on along the typical ‘she needs do what Frankie says and relax, therefore she needs to forget work’ line - something that irritated many readers of by Lauren Weisberger. I wish that element of the story was different – Rosie clearly loves her job and her hotel – why else would she work there since she was sixteen? Why would she become so disillusioned with her work just because of Joe?
It’s clear why Rosie loves her work – Browne has really managed to capture the magic of working back-stage. Planning out events, doing the set up, seeing the end product all fall into place and knowing it was down to your work and contributions. It’s hard work, but that means you’re really a part of the event, not just an observer. As a result, the invisibility of being treated like staff completely jars against the constant respect and satisfaction Rosie has been receiving so far, adding to the shock of a revelation about Dominic.
The setting is wonderful – Browne describes the hotel so vividly you can imagine waltzing down the grand staircases, waking up in the honeymoon suite with chocolates on the pillow or attending an evening party in the glorious gardens. What also helped bring the novel to life was the crazy and loveable family of hotel staff. Laurence, the charming but hopeless hypochondriac boss, Helen the likeable chef and the unbeatable Tam from security are just a handful from the hotel – I loved all the characters, including Caroline, the source of all events managing wisdom, and smart-mouthed Dominic (well, at first, anyway).
Although doesn’t have the most original of plots, it’s a witty and immensely fun book to read. Jam-packed with drama, bridezillas and glamour, Browne has created a wonderfully entertaining novel that I’ll keep rereading, especially before my big sister’s wedding.