A Small Hotel by Robert Olen Butler

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Set in contemporary New Orleans but working its way back in time, A Small Hotel chronicles the relationship between Michael and Kelly Hays, who have decided to separate after twenty-four years of marriage. The book begins on the day that the Hays are to finalize their divorce. Kelly is due to be in court, but instead she drives from her home in Pensacola, Florida, across the panhandle to New Orleans and checks into Room 303 at the Olivier House in the city’s French Quarter—the hotel where she and Michael fell in love some twenty-five years earlier and where she now finds herself about to make a decision that will forever affect her, Michael, and their nineteen-year-old daughter, Samantha. An intelligent, deeply moving, and remarkably written portrait of a relationship that reads as a cross between a romance novel and a literary page turner, A Small Hotel is a masterful story that will remind readers once again why Robert Olen Butler has been called the “best living American writer” (Jeff Guinn, Fort Worth Star-Telegram).

About Robert Olen Butler

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Joanne Koenig Coste, a nationally recognized expert and an outspoken advocate for patient and family care, is a board member of the American Journal of Alzheimer's Disease. Currently in private practice as an Alzheimer's family therapist, Koenig Coste also serves as president of Alzheimer's Consulting Associates. She lectures around the country and is the recipient of a National Award for Health Heroes from Reader's Digest. She was named a "Woman to Watch in the 21st Century" by NBC Nightly News
Published August 6, 2011 by Grove Press. 256 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for A Small Hotel

Kirkus Reviews

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Though its title alludes to a Broadway show tune about the joys of honeymooning, the subject is the impending divorce of Kelly and Michael Hays, left unaccomplished when she fails to show up in a Louisiana courthouse to sign final papers.

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The New York Times

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Kelly counts pills and takes a walk, while Michael tries to give himself fully to Laurie, whose every movement sparks a memory of Kelly, who is herself endlessly sifting through memories: the night she and Michael met;

Oct 07 2011 | Read Full Review of A Small Hotel

Publishers Weekly

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Flashbacks tossed in under negligible pretexts give Michael and Kelly ample opportunity to ponder their history for the reader's edification, showing Michael to be a boorish void and Kelly a needy woman desperate for one romantic declaration.

Mar 14 2011 | Read Full Review of A Small Hotel

New York Journal of Books

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Robert Olen Butler, best known for A Good Scent From a Strange Mountain, his 1993 Pulitzer-Prize winning collection of short stories, has been turning out first-rate fiction for three decades.

Jul 05 2011 | Read Full Review of A Small Hotel

Star Tribune

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Butler is at his subtle, seamless best as he moves back and forth in time and between his two main characters.

Aug 05 2011 | Read Full Review of A Small Hotel

Book Reporter

A SMALL HOTEL, Robert Olen Butler’s latest novel, is an engaging history of a married couple’s relationship with an unconventional format.

Aug 12 2011 | Read Full Review of A Small Hotel

The Washington Post

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Jul 31 2011 | Read Full Review of A Small Hotel

Dallas News

You also might question whether the issue of Michael not saying “I love you” and the psychology Butler creates to justify this is believable enough as a cause of the wreckage of this relationship.

Aug 26 2011 | Read Full Review of A Small Hotel

Oregon Live

In the first sentence of "A Small Hotel," Robert Olen Butler's new novel, we meet 49-year-old Kelly Hays on the day that her divorce is to be finalized.

Sep 04 2011 | Read Full Review of A Small Hotel

Tampa Bay Times

In one flashback, Michael recalls a warm moment with Kelly and their young daughter, Samantha: "Michael does not move, happy to watch the two girls in his life from this place apart.

Sep 17 2011 | Read Full Review of A Small Hotel

The New Yorker

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Sep 05 2011 | Read Full Review of A Small Hotel


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Aug 02 2011 | Read Full Review of A Small Hotel

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