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The Paragon Hotel

Written by: Lyndsay Faye
Narrated by: January LaVoy
Length: 13 hrs and 21 mins
4 out of 5 stars (10 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A gun moll with a knack for disappearing flees from Prohibition-era Harlem to Portland's Paragon Hotel.

The year is 1921, and "Nobody" Alice James has just arrived in Oregon with a bullet wound, a lifetime's experience battling the New York Mafia, and 50,000 dollars in illicit cash. She befriends Max, a black Pullman porter who reminds her achingly of home and who saves Alice by leading her to the Paragon Hotel. 

But her unlikely sanctuary turns out to be an all-black hotel in a Jim Crow city, and its lodgers seem unduly terrified of a white woman on the premises. As she meets the churlish Dr. Pendleton, the stately Mavereen, and the club chanteuse Blossom Fontaine, she understands their dread. The Ku Klux Klan has arrived in Portland in fearful numbers - burning crosses, electing officials, infiltrating newspapers, and brutalizing blacks. And only Alice and her new Paragon "family" are searching for a missing mulatto child who has mysteriously vanished into the woods. To untangle the web of lies and misdeeds around her, Alice will have to answer for her own past, too.

A richly imagined novel starring two indomitable heroines, The Paragon Hotel at once plumbs the darkest parts of America's past and the most redemptive facets of humanity. From international best-selling, multi-award-nominated writer Lyndsay Faye, it's a masterwork of historical suspense. 

©2019 Lyndsay Faye (P)2019 Penguin Audio

What the critics say

The Paragon Hotel is set a century ago, but its themes of social and cultural upheaval feel sufficiently fresh that you might think twice about calling Lyndsay Faye’s sixth novel historical fiction. But calling it terrific - not for a minute should you hesitate to do that.... The great strength of 'The Paragon Hotel' is Ms. Faye’s voice - a blend of film noir and screwball comedy.... The jauntiness of the prose doesn’t hide the fact that Ms. Faye has serious business on her mind. At bottom, The Paragon Hotel is about identity and about family - those we’re born into and those we create.” (The Wall Street Journal

“Utterly winning...Faye writes a good puzzle...[and she’s] a person meant to write, who thinks and jokes and understands by writing. It’s a rare gift..” (New York Times Book Review)
 

“This historical novel, which carries strong reverberations of present-day social and cultural upheavals, contains a message from a century ago that's useful to our own time: ‘We need to do better at solving things.’ A riveting multilevel thriller of race, sex, and mob violence that throbs with menace as it hums with wit.” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review) 

“Gangsters and prostitutes, nightclub singers and dodgy cops, an African-American hotel under constant threat of violence.... Lyndsay Faye drops us right in the middle of the tumult of the Prohibition Era, bringing to life one of the darker times in our nation’s history with wit and heart.” (Lauren Willig, New York Times-bestselling author of The English Wife)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Nina
  • 2019-02-12

Not my favorite but okay.

The narrator was fantastic. But the story was like trying to fit as many story lines as you possibly can into one. There was way too much going on. I feel like the author thought “how many insane things can go on at once? A mobster heroine, the KKK, a secret couple that had to hide their interracial love, a transgender lesbian who hid a child and then shipped him off to boarding school? What else can I add in... “
It didn’t make sense until Chapter 16 or so, and even then, was still too much. The ending was insanely abrupt for all those details.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Ally D
  • 2019-02-01

Great historical fiction

Fascinating book I could not stop listening. This is a story that needs to be told. I had no idea that the KKK had such a presence in Portland OR.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • MissSusie66
  • 2019-01-17

1st 5 star listen of 2019

I loved all these characters! Alice on the run finds a friend in Pullman porter Max, who sees she’s in more trouble than she is letting on. He brings her to the black hotel The Paragon, where we meet a rousing cast of characters, including Blossom who is a very interesting character. Alice is a white woman at a black hotel in the 1920’s so you are kind of on edge waiting for something bad to happen. But with these two tough women whoever messes with them better look out!

This book is about friendship, what it means to be family, race relations, the mob and oh so much more that I don’t want to give away because I want you to come to the realization and have the same sense of wonder I did at the reveal!

January LaVoy’s narration is fantastic every single person has their own voice you are never questioning who is talking because she gives everyone a unique voice!

I really, really loved this book! I highly recommend this book!

5 Stars

9 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • Kat5
  • 2019-07-26

A great read and a great listen

This story moves at the pace of a vaudeville show. It has a rhyme and a pace that is fast moving from one event to another, from then to now. A roaring 20's vibe that requires close attention to follow the plot and pick up the nuances. I did enjoy the tale. I was surprised I thought I got it and was way short of the whole of the tale. The parallels between beginnings of NYC mafia and the KKK in Oregon are instructive. The characters are charming.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • missyscott99
  • 2019-07-12

Audio makes this story come alive

I started reading the paper book first and had a hard time getting into it, so I went for the audio to listen to while I painted my kitchen. The story was much more engaging hearing the voice inflections and character shifts. I learned a lot about history and appreciate the author’s ability to address a sad reality for people of color STILL happening today. Thank you for this story!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Marie Cowan
  • 2019-02-03

Enjoyed the character stories and the narrator’s telling.

I listened to the Audible version of this book, entertainingly and well narrated by January LaVoy. The Paragon Hotel, set in the 1920’s, is not just about the hotel but the inner circle of those working there and its guests. Each person has a story, and secrets. We meet everyone through Alice “Nobody” James, and discover the Harlem past that lead her to land in Oregon at the Paragon. Between chapters Author Lyndsay Faye disperses historical references to the nation’s post-war Prohibition Era views, Oregon’s own racial and sex-based oppressiveness, Italian mafia history in the likes of Harlem, feminist movement, and national headlines. I recommend reading or listening to the audio version.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 2019-03-01

Great characters, fascinating history

The book was slow in developing but gradually created a panorama of a fascinating era of American history. The author does her research and also offers insights into racism, gender identity, mobsters, and loyalties, not to mention a number of twists and a few heartbreaks.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 2019-02-22

Strong Women

Nobody Alice James is a very strong Italian/Welsh woman from Harlem. Set in the 1920 this book follows Nobody from Harlem to Portland.
When arriving in Portland Nobody is taken to the Paragon Hotel by Pullman porter Max due to an injury she revived in Harlem.

While there she meets Blossom Fountaine who is a beautiful African Americans singer. Who is also a strong female character.

I enjoy the story of these two main characters and the supporting characters are well writing too!!

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • E. Allison
  • 2019-11-18

Complex and fascinating - loved it!

Really not my usual genre at all, (I usually read mostly crime novels), but I was very intrigued by the description and the time period – prohibition era 1920’s. Combine that with the severe race issue in Oregon at the time, and a new era for women’s progress and this book is fascinating. It’s longer than average but I never once felt it was too long.

Well defined characters, strong personalities, complex relationships, a pivotal time period, intelligent and interesting storylines – some running parallel in the past, some in the present. There’s a lot going on here but I never felt like I wasn’t following the many storylines and characters.

The reader is fantastic! Incredible variety of accents and voices, specifically capturing tones which fit characters perfectly and bring them to vivid life. Her portrayal of Blossom makes me think of black and white movies about the period, flappers in the 1920’s. She brings the entire book alive and makes it a riveting listen.

This book was a standout – loved it from start to finish.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2019-10-26

Awesome narrative

I loved the story and the narrative by January was incredible. I could listen again if there weren’t so many books waiting.

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  • Yavanna
  • 2019-01-16

A gem of a book

Such a bewitching story, with larger than life characters that work themselves into your heart and take up permanent residence there!