We are currently making improvements to the Audible site. In an effort to enhance the accessibility experience for our customers, we have created a page to more easily navigate the new experience, available at the web address www.audible.com/access .
 >   > 
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet Audiobook

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet: A Novel

Regular Price:$31.93
  • Membership Details:
    • First book free with 30-day trial
    • $14.95/month thereafter for your choice of 1 new book each month
    • Cancel easily anytime
    • Exchange books you don't like
    • All selected books are yours to keep, even if you cancel
  • - or -

Publisher's Summary

In the opening pages of Jamie Ford's stunning debut, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, Henry Lee comes upon a crowd gathered outside the Panama Hotel, once the gateway to Seattle's Japantown. It has been boarded up for decades, but now the new owner has made an incredible discovery: the belongings of Japanese families, left when they were rounded up and sent to internment camps during World War II. As Henry looks on, the owner opens a Japanese parasol.

This simple act takes old Henry Lee back to the 1940s, at the height of the war, when young Henry's world is a jumble of confusion and excitement, and to his father, who is obsessed with the war in China and having Henry grow up American. While scholarshipping at the exclusive Rainier Elementary, where the white kids ignore him, Henry meets Keiko Okabe, a young Japanese American student. Amid the chaos of blackouts, curfews, and FBI raids, Henry and Keiko forge a bond of friendship and innocent love that transcends the long-standing prejudices of their Old World ancestors. And after Keiko and her family are swept up in the evacuations to the internment camps, she and Henry are left only with the hope that the war will end, and that their promise to each other will be kept.

Forty years later, Henry Lee is certain that the parasol belonged to Keiko. In the hotel's dark dusty basement he begins looking for signs of the Okabe family's belongings and for a long-lost object whose value he cannot begin to measure. Now a widower, Henry is still trying to find his voice, words that might explain the actions of his nationalistic father; words that might bridge the gap between him and his modern, Chinese American son; words that might help him confront the choices he made many years ago.

©2009 Jamie Ford; (P)2009 Random House Audio

What the Critics Say

"A tender and satisfying work set in a time and a place lost forever, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet gives us a glimpse of the damage that is caused by war - not the sweeping damage of the battlefield, but the cold, cruel damage to the hearts and humanity of individual people. Especially relevant in today's world, this is a beautifully written book that will make you think. And, more importantly, it will make you feel." (Garth Stein, New York Times best-selling author of The Art of Racing in the Rain)
"Jamie Ford's first title explores the age-old conflicts between father and son, the beauty and sadness of what happened to Japanese Americans in the Seattle area during World War II, and the depths and longing of deep-heart love. An impressive, bitter, and sweet debut." (Lisa See, best-selling author of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (2495 )
5 star
 (1062)
4 star
 (902)
3 star
 (389)
2 star
 (96)
1 star
 (46)
Overall
4.3 (1374 )
5 star
 (696)
4 star
 (432)
3 star
 (198)
2 star
 (36)
1 star
 (12)
Story
4.4 (1366 )
5 star
 (750)
4 star
 (433)
3 star
 (151)
2 star
 (21)
1 star
 (11)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    eclectic reader Fort Myers, FL USA 05-15-13
    eclectic reader Fort Myers, FL USA 05-15-13 Member Since 2015

    wanderer

    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    442
    62
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Seattle of WW II with a great love story"
    Where does Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This is an enjoyable listen that drew me into the story. Evokes some of the feeling of snow falling on cedars.


    Which character – as performed by Feodor Chin – was your favorite?

    The central character and his emotional growth throughout the book brought me into the story


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    I found myself prolonging my listening sessions just to experience the world of Hotel Bitter and Sweet as it developed.


    Any additional comments?

    The mingling of music and love added a dimension to the story. The story works well as an audio book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    betty quakertown, PA, United States 05-14-13
    betty quakertown, PA, United States 05-14-13 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    34
    4
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "great book our book club read this"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    yes well written and narrator was super


    What does Feodor Chin bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    increased knowledge about how America


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    It made me realize how unfair we Americans acted towards other Americans


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tamara United States 03-19-13
    Tamara United States 03-19-13
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great"
    Would you listen to Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet again? Why?

    It was a great story of how different races feel towards each other and how time can change that some.


    Have you listened to any of Feodor Chin’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    no I have not


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Their meetings at the fence and when he would go all the way to the concentration camps to look for her.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alice 03-11-13
    Alice 03-11-13 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    33
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    459
    15
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Historical fiction at its painful best."
    What made the experience of listening to Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet the most enjoyable?

    The absorbing human story intertwined into the sad history of west coast internment of Japanese citizens.


    Which character – as performed by Feodor Chin – was your favorite?

    Henry. The narrator was wonderful, read with great feeling...inflections so authentic.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes.


    Any additional comments?

    This is a story which enlightens the reader and portrays a global view of WWII from Asia to Germany.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    K. Sanders 03-09-13
    K. Sanders 03-09-13

    Kimberly

    HELPFUL VOTES
    0
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    44
    3
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    3
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great mix of American history and fiction"
    Would you listen to Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet again? Why?

    Definitely. I loved the story. This is a lovely tale about two young adults, from totally different cultures, who find a friendship and understanding in a world turned on end by war. The characters are very likable and the story is quite touching. Not in a mushy Harlequin way, but in a Wow sort of way.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I had no idea when I purchased the book that it took place in Seattle (my home town). I was surprised at how many places are still here today and how many I frequent on a regular basis. I thought I knew my town and our country's history pretty well… I was wrong.


    What does Feodor Chin bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    I honestly didn't think I cared for audio books, but the narrator had a way of grabbing and holding my attention. His voice was even, his characters were believable, and he made you like them. I could honestly see each person in the story. I've heard other narrators that just annoyed me, their phony accents, over exaggerated voices, etc.... were too much like a very bad low budget film.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Yes, but I don't want to spoil the tale for anyone else.


    Any additional comments?

    I was shocked that the Liberal Seattle I know and love was once very much the opposite. Quite surprising.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nancy West Bloomfield, MI, United States 01-23-13
    Nancy West Bloomfield, MI, United States 01-23-13 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    9
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    14
    12
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great Romantic Read"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes, I would recommend it! Admittedly, the story starts out slow, but given a chance, this is truly a romantic story with a soul. Also, the history of our nation at the period of Worl War II is always so interesting, but this is my first experience reading about it from the standpoint of the Chinese and the Japanese.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Kayko and Henry were my top favorites, of course, but the intensity of the relationship between Henry and his parents (and then Henry with his own son) was riveting. Henry's friend is my hero in the story; so strong, yet so quiet, he is the quintesential friend.


    Have you listened to any of Feodor Chin’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No, but I will!


    Who was the most memorable character of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet and why?

    See above note!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paige Woodruff CT 12-22-12
    Paige Woodruff CT 12-22-12 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    61
    32
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Well written and read"
    What does Feodor Chin bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    The narrator of the book becomes the characters which given the nationality of protagonist is a difficult feat.


    Any additional comments?

    The story moves from present time to the WWII era and captures the listener from the beginning. While fictitious the story is obviously well researched and conveys a picture of what must have been a very challenging time in American history. For those of us that only slightly know if the Japanese interment it is certainly enlightening to what the mood of the day must have reflected. Beautiful story,well written and narrated.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Angela Naugatuck, CT, United States 11-29-12
    Angela Naugatuck, CT, United States 11-29-12
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    27
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Some parts brought a tear to my eye."
    Would you listen to Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet again? Why?

    I never listen to a story twice no matter how much I've enjoyed it. I like to move on to new stories.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I enjoyed the ties with history that were made in the book.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Vic Victoria, BC, Canada 11-19-12
    Vic Victoria, BC, Canada 11-19-12 Member Since 2016
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    5
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "absorbing and an education"
    Would you listen to Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet again? Why?

    Don't usually listen to books twice


    What other book might you compare Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet to and why?

    Work of Amy Tan


    What about Feodor Chin’s performance did you like?

    Excellent depiction of the all the diverse characters


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    No one moment


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    K.C. 11-06-12
    K.C. 11-06-12
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    9
    5
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Romance and Internment"
    What did you love best about Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet?

    The book moves between two time periods, the second world war and the 1980s, and focuses on Henry as a 12-year-old and then as a 50 something who has just lost his wife. Ford does a great job of drawing the reader into Henry the boy and seeing how he became the man that he did. It is a complicated story of father/son relationship and, most importantly of the internment of Japanese citizens during the second world war. I learned a lot.


    What did you like best about this story?

    That I learned so much about the internment of Japanese citizens during World War II through a well-plotted, well-developed novel.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    I can't think of a particular moment--there were many.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

Cancel

Thank you.

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.