What The Word On The Street is Reading: The Colonial Hotel

If you’re in search of an interesting read this summer, you may want to follow our Programming Assistant Cindy’s lead. This week Cindy read The Colonial Hotel, by Jonathan Bennett. The Colonial Hotel was published in May 2014 by ECW Press.

Jonathan Bennett will be appearing at this year’s festival on September 21st, reading at the New Narratives Tent.

About the book
A doctor named Paris follows a nurse to a country on the brink of civil war. When a confrontation does break out, they are swept up by rebel forces and separated. The nurse, Helen, is pregnant; she escapes, but Paris is imprisoned as war rages. A narrative of brutal power about parental bonds, forgiveness, and identity, The Colonial Hotel recasts the ancient story of Paris, Helen, and Oenone. While the action might be ripped from international headlines, Bennett creates a wholly new take on an age-old tale set in the bleakest aspect of our unstable, yet remarkable, world.

Q&A with Cindy

What drew you to the book?

“I was drawn to The Colonial Hotel because I’ve always had an affinity for the works of Homer, particularly the Iliad, and I love modern adaptations of classical works. Plus, it didn’t hurt that Jonathan Bennett is a fantastic writer with a lot of amazing books under his belt.”

Did you enjoy the book?

“Even though the book is only loosely inspired by the Iliad, it has the feel and lyricism of an epic, which I really enjoyed, and the epistolary-like structure of the narrative lends the book an episodic quality that is reminiscent of Homer in the best way. I also liked that the story, which centers on the emotional and physical carnage of civil war, felt timeless and contemporary all at once.”

Would you recommend the book?

“Yes. Bennett’s storytelling is superb and those looking for an immersive summer read should look no further and pick up The Colonial Hotel today.”

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