Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson
Reasons for reading: I've enjoyed Maureen Johnson's other books; New York setting for the Triple 8 Challenge
Book description: "Scarlett Martin has grown up in a most unusual way. Her family owns the Hopewell, a small hotel in the heart of New York City. Her nineteen-year-old brother, Spencer, is an out of work actor facing a family deadline to get his career in order. Eighteen-year-old Lola has the delicate looks of a model, the practical nature of a nurse, and a wealthy society boyfriend. Eleven-year-old Marlene is the family terror with a tragic past. When the Martins turn fifteen, they are each expected to take over the care of a suite in the once elegant, now shabby Art Deco hotel. For Scarlett’s fifteenth birthday, she gets both a room called the Empire Suite, and a permanent guest named Mrs. Amberson. Scarlett doesn’t quite know what to make of this C-list starlet, world traveler, and aspiring autobiographer who wants to take over her life. And when she meets Eric, an astonishingly gorgeous actor who has just moved to the city, her summer takes a second unexpected turn. With Mrs. Amberson calling the shots, Spencer’s career to save, Lola’s love life to navigate around, and Marlene’s prying eyes everywhere, things won’t be easy. Before the summer is over, Scarlett will have to survive a whirlwind of thievery, Broadway glamour, romantic missteps, and theatrical deception."
First line: "The Hopewell has been a family-run institution on the Upper East Side for over seventy-five years."
My thoughts: This book was great fun, another winner from Maureen Johnson (I loved both her 13 Little Blue Envelopes and Devilish). In fact, her acknowledgements page alone is funnier than some books I've read! I have a feeling she'd be great fun to hang out with. :-)I love hotels, I love Art Deco, I love New York, I love theatre, I love to laugh . . . this book has all those things! While I'd love to be like Eloise and live in a hotel, I don't think I'd like to be like the Martin family and have to work in the hotel you live in - much less glamorous. I loved the descriptions of the Hopewell's crumbling Art Deco glory - each suite has its own name and style of decor, with the crowning glory being the silvery twilight-themed Empire Suite (home of Mrs. Amberson).
My only quibble was with the apparently incompetent Martin parents. While the sad circumstances of Marlene led them to be in debt, I still found it hard to believe that they couldn't make at least a decent living running a historic hotel in the heart of Manhattan. After firing all of the staff (including the cook who is guidebook-famous for her breakfasts - neither of the senior Martins can cook even a frozen lasagna) they've have basically left the running of the hotel to their kids (the parents, whey they're there, seem to be either trying unsuccessfully to fix something in the hotel or burning something in the kitchen). I'm all for kids working, but surely you should have at least a few adult employees to run a hotel, especially when you expect the older kids to have outside jobs, too?
But that quibble aside, this is a great book. For all of the theatre and the over-the-topness of Mrs. A, there were very real elements, particularly the siblings' relationships - they basically formed into two teams of two years ago and that's how they've stayed. They care about each other but communicate best with just one person. Also, Scarlett discovering that first love can really hurt but also discovering that she's a lot more clever and resourceful than she'd realized.
So check out this suite read! (Sorry, couldn't resist.)
(If you've reviewed this book, leave a link in the comments and I'll link to you.)