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Dolly Considine’s Hotel by Eamon Somers

Writing.ie | Book Reviews | Literary Fiction

By Mairéad Hearne (Swirl and Thread)

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Dolly Considine’s Hotel by Eamon Somers is published with Unbound, ‘a crowdfunding publisher that works for everybody‘. Eamon had toyed with the idea of self-publishing for many years but it was in 2016 when he was inspired to go down this route after attending a writers’ conference where he heard about the concept of the crowd funding publisher.

Dolly Considine’s Hotel is described as ‘a blend of history, tragedy and comedy, grounded in Ireland’s near political past and pro-life lobby. Exploring issues of identity, family, sexuality, women’s rights, religion and politics with wit in an unforgettable story about the differences between the way we see ourselves and the way others see us.’

I knew that Eamon Somers was going to test me with his debut and he did. Although set in the two different timelines of the 1950s and 1980s, there is a strong sense of the avant-garde from the prose. I have never read any James Joyce but I have read many novels about James Joyce, most recently Nora by Nuala O’ Connor. I would hazard a guess that Eamon Somers was inspired by the writings of James Joyce when he put pen to paper and created a piece of literature with an almost experimental feel from it. I can honestly say I don’t think I’ve read anything quite like it.

Dolly Considine is the purveyor of the Curragh House Hotel in Dublin. It is the local for an extremely eclectic bunch of individuals, from politicians to actors and everything in between. Dolly is a very determined and a forward-thinking woman who knows which side her bread is buttered on. When she originally took over the hotel in the 1950s after her Aunt died, it was a business in debt. Her family wanted to see the back of it and sell it up, with her parents determined that Dolly would settle back home and follow in her mother’s footsteps as the wife of an ambitious politician. But Dolly Considine put her foot down responding to her mother’s comments with her own….

“You mean, to be Daddy’s trinket, paraded across the constituency to show the voters what a normal happy family we are.”

Dolly defied her parents remaining at the hotel and now, almost thirty years later, she crosses paths with Julian Ryder (aka Paddy Butler). Julian is a young writer who dreams of being a literary success. He leaves home in a bid to escape his older brother, and with plans to go to England, but rather bizarre circumstances lead him to the door of the Curragh House Hotel. A job as a bar assistant with the added bonus of accommodation included is more than Julian could have hoped for. The personalities that frequent the hotel provide the perfect fodder for Julian’s writing and he explores possible scenarios through his Summer of Unrequited Love, a curious collection of stories that are littered throughout the novel. The Curragh House Hotel is also the home of a small theatre with a Russian director who is very ‘hands-on’. He is a lover of vodka with quite an expressive and diva-ish personality, leading to some heated scenes between himself and Julian.

One very important point to note when reading Dolly Considine’s Hotel is the chapter titles. This little nugget of information will let you know whether you are in reality or submerged in the thoughts and imagination of Julian’s writing. I did get a little confused with this and possibly mixed up my fact with fiction on occasion but once realised it all made sense.

Dolly Considine’s Hotel is a very quirky and unique debut. In retrospect I think it is a book that probably deserves a second reading. Concentration is of utmost importance as the reader is taken on a journey across decades and jumping frequently into the mind of Julian Ryder. It is an unconventional journey with well-depicted caricatures and madcap antics culminating in a complex and unforgettable reading experience.

(c) Mairéad Hearne (Swirl and Thread)

Order your copy online here.

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