17th Jan 2011
The Pink Hotel by Anna Stothard
Unsurprisingly, this caused her to question her identity as well as forming a complicated kind of jealousy which longed to be explored in fiction.
Stothard garnered praise for her début, Isabel and Rocco. Published when she was just nineteen, it is a tense and sexually obsessive tale of a brother and sister mysteriously abandoned by their parents.
The Pink Hotel picks up on similar themes of obsession, using the dirty glamour of Los Angeles as background. Stothard lived in LA for two years and this is evident from the sense of place which permeates the novel.
When a seventeen-year-old girl discovers that Lily, the mother she never knew, has died, she flies to Los Angeles for the funeral.
She locates her mum’s bedroom in the hotel she had owned on Venice Beach and steals a suitcase of letters, photographs and clothes.
She then tracks down the men who had known her mother, returning photographs and love letters and learning about her life while tentatively re-enacting parts of it.
The protagonist is a tomboy, awkwardly emulating her glamorous mother and even dressing in her clothes while scouring the bars of LA for useful contacts.
Bearing little resemblance to her, she manages to meet the people closest to Lily without arousing suspicion of her identity and becomes herself entangled with them in different ways.
The first-person narrative and a text rich with witty and entertaining dialogue make it a smooth and easy read despite some of the darker subject matter. Characters discuss everything from jellyfish and treasured words to their experiences of Lily, revealing more about their own eccentricities in the process.
The Pink Hotel is a self-assured second novel. Stothard’s youth informs the main character and the theme but she also injects the writing with a sense of maturity in forming a narrative and bringing a scene to life.