The story begins with a seventeen year old girl skulking around a wake at the pink hotel. She has flown from London to Los Angeles to crash the funeral of the mother she never knew.
She steals a suitcase full of letters, photographs and clothes that belonged to her mum, Lily, and spends her summer exploring the contents of the case and tracking down the people who knew her. As she finds out more about Lily she also discovers things about herself and her own identity.
This is one of those novels that hook you in because it seems so personal. It’s almost like a confession or a fictionalised diary; we are given such intimate insights into the girl’s life and also into Lily’s life, both of which are varied and interesting. There is a small cast of characters that assist the girl on her journey but each one is important and well defined.
The LA setting was the perfect backdrop for this tale; a glamorous, sunny veneer of a place that conceals the imperfect citizens that inhabit the beaches, board walk and bars. I didn't much like the girl at first as I couldn't understand some of her actions but she grew on me throughout and I liked her fully by the end.
Anna Stothard has this poignant way of writing that is wonderfully descriptive and melancholy at times, that keeps you completely engaged in the story. I already enjoyed her third novel The Art of Leaving, but I think I liked this one even more.
The Pink Hotel is a compelling and stylish novel about discovery, love and identity that wholly deserves it’s already plentiful praise.