The Hotel New Hampshire takes place in hotels, in New England and in Vienna, during the Nazi era. The novel features the Berry family: father Win Berry and his wife, and their children Franny, John, Frank, Lily and Egg, and is told from the point of view of John.
Each of these chracters is extremely quirky, and the cause or victim of exceedingly odd circumstances. Win is an often absentee father obsessed with his motorcycle and his bear, State of Maine (aka Earl). Franny, the oldest child, is a cheerleader and a tomboy, damaged by a brutal rape. John, the narrator, is a sentimental womanizer in love with his sister Franny. Frank, a surprisingly normal (relatively speaking) and sympathetic character, is a homosexual who loves to wear uniforms and performs taxidermy on their dead dog Sorrow. Lily is a writer consumed by her failure to grow. And so on.
The family's adventures begin in New Hampshire, also taking place in Vienna & eventually in Maine. It crams disparate, colliding elements into the plot: homosexuality, Nazis, mental instability, rape, terrorism, incest and family ties.
This report prepared by Shelley Livaudais