Ladies' Night at Finbar's Hotel

Dermot Bolger, Editor Houghton Mifflin Harcourt P $21.95 (276p) ISBN 978-0-15-600866-2
Fans of the original shabby landmark Dublin hotel memorialized in Bolger's serial short story collection Finbar's Hotel may be disconcerted at the new, hip management, but just as in the previous book, the ingenious formula brings together a host of Ireland's notable writers in an impressive collaboration. Seven authors, including Maeve Binchy, Clare Boylan, Anne Haverty and Deirdre Purcell, each contribute a chapter describing the adventures of different guests in the hotel, but none is attributed, so it's up to the reader to guess who wrote what. The volume opens with the news story that the once-famously seedy Finbar has been renovated by a rock-'n'-roll couple and has become Dublin's premier hot spot for celebrities and other glamorous folks. But not all the guests fit in so well in this posh milieu, making for unexpected encounters both dramatic and humorous. In Room 101, a plainspoken, humble Dublin man has offered to ""help out"" his beloved wife's high-powered best friend--by providing the sperm she needs to get pregnant. In Room 102, a clothing designer's first Dublin fashion show is disrupted by her overbearing, manic, ultimately tragic father, while another woman attempts to catch her husband in flagrante delicto in 106. Finbar's cosmopolitan refurbishment reflects the new Ireland's Celtic Tiger boosterism, but the chic atmosphere doesn't lend itself to the cohesion of a novel as well as did the nostalgic air of the old hotel. Only Detta Hamena in 105, a chambermaid from the old days, bridges the hostelry's history. However, the amusing crossovers of recurrent characters, such as the unnamed musical celebrity who appears in the charming nun-on-the-run tale and who throws a fit in another story, capture some of the hotel's charm and add wit and style to Bolger's creative concept. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/06/2000
Release date: 03/01/2000
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