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The Paragon Hotel

Narrated by: January LaVoy
Length: 13 hrs and 21 mins
4 out of 5 stars (144 ratings)

Regular price: $31.50

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Publisher's Summary

The new and exciting historical thriller by Lyndsay Faye, author of Edgar-nominated Jane Steele and Gods of Gotham, which follows Alice "Nobody" from Prohibition-era Harlem to Portland's the Paragon Hotel.

The year is 1921, and "Nobody" Alice James is on a cross-country train, carrying a bullet wound and fleeing for her life following an illicit drug and liquor deal gone horribly wrong. Desperate to get as far away as possible from New York City and those who want her dead, she has her sights set on Oregon: a distant frontier that seems the end of the line.

She befriends Max, a black Pullman porter who reminds her achingly of Harlem, who leads Alice to the Paragon Hotel upon arrival in Portland. Her unlikely sanctuary turns out to be the only all-black hotel in the city, and its lodgers seem unduly terrified of a white woman on the premises. But as she meets the churlish Dr. Pendleton, the stately Mavereen, and the unforgettable club chanteuse Blossom Fontaine, she begins to understand the reason for their dread. The Ku Klux Klan has arrived in Portland in fearful numbers - burning crosses, inciting violence, electing officials, and brutalizing blacks. And only Alice, along with her new "family" of Paragon residents, are willing to search for a missing mulatto child who has mysteriously vanished into the Oregon woods.

Why was "Nobody" Alice James forced to escape Harlem? Why do the Paragon's denizens live in fear - and what other sins are they hiding? Where did the orphaned child who went missing from the hotel, Davy Lee, come from in the first place? And, perhaps most important, why does Blossom Fontaine seem to be at the very center of this tangled web?

©2019 Lyndsay Faye (P)2019 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

“Utterly winning...Faye writes a good puzzle...[and she’s] a person meant to write, who thinks and jokes and understands by writing. It’s a rare gift..” (New York Times Book Review

The Paragon Hotel is set a century ago, but its themes of social and cultural upheaval feel sufficiently fresh that you might think twice about calling Lyndsay Faye’s sixth novel historical fiction. But calling it terrific - not for a minute should you hesitate to do that.... The great strength of 'The Paragon Hotel' is Ms. Faye’s voice - a blend of film noir and screwball comedy.... The jauntiness of the prose doesn’t hide the fact that Ms. Faye has serious business on her mind. At bottom, The Paragon Hotel is about identity and about family - those we’re born into and those we create.” (The Wall Street Journal)  

"With complex, believable characters and an intricate plot, this is a sprightly, enjoyable read." (People)

“This books succeeds wildly on several levels. First, as a beautiful period piece, slangy and jazzy and bringing 1921 to brilliant life. Second, as a lesson about the racist history of Oregon.... And third, as a suspense story.... I love so much about this book.” (Raleigh News and Observer)

“This historical novel, which carries strong reverberations of present-day social and cultural upheavals, contains a message from a century ago that's useful to our own time: ‘We need to do better at solving things.’ A riveting multilevel thriller of race, sex, and mob violence that throbs with menace as it hums with wit.” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review)  

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
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1st 5 star listen of 2019

I loved all these characters! Alice on the run finds a friend in Pullman porter Max, who sees she’s in more trouble than she is letting on. He brings her to the black hotel The Paragon, where we meet a rousing cast of characters, including Blossom who is a very interesting character. Alice is a white woman at a black hotel in the 1920’s so you are kind of on edge waiting for something bad to happen. But with these two tough women whoever messes with them better look out!

This book is about friendship, what it means to be family, race relations, the mob and oh so much more that I don’t want to give away because I want you to come to the realization and have the same sense of wonder I did at the reveal!

January LaVoy’s narration is fantastic every single person has their own voice you are never questioning who is talking because she gives everyone a unique voice!

I really, really loved this book! I highly recommend this book!

5 Stars

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Enjoyed the character stories and the narrator’s telling.

I listened to the Audible version of this book, entertainingly and well narrated by January LaVoy. The Paragon Hotel, set in the 1920’s, is not just about the hotel but the inner circle of those working there and its guests. Each person has a story, and secrets. We meet everyone through Alice “Nobody” James, and discover the Harlem past that lead her to land in Oregon at the Paragon. Between chapters Author Lyndsay Faye disperses historical references to the nation’s post-war Prohibition Era views, Oregon’s own racial and sex-based oppressiveness, Italian mafia history in the likes of Harlem, feminist movement, and national headlines. I recommend reading or listening to the audio version.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Great historical fiction

Fascinating book I could not stop listening. This is a story that needs to be told. I had no idea that the KKK had such a presence in Portland OR.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Strong Women

Nobody Alice James is a very strong Italian/Welsh woman from Harlem. Set in the 1920 this book follows Nobody from Harlem to Portland.
When arriving in Portland Nobody is taken to the Paragon Hotel by Pullman porter Max due to an injury she revived in Harlem.

While there she meets Blossom Fountaine who is a beautiful African Americans singer. Who is also a strong female character.

I enjoy the story of these two main characters and the supporting characters are well writing too!!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Not my favorite but okay.

The narrator was fantastic. But the story was like trying to fit as many story lines as you possibly can into one. There was way too much going on. I feel like the author thought “how many insane things can go on at once? A mobster heroine, the KKK, a secret couple that had to hide their interracial love, a transgender lesbian who hid a child and then shipped him off to boarding school? What else can I add in... “
It didn’t make sense until Chapter 16 or so, and even then, was still too much. The ending was insanely abrupt for all those details.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Best book I’ve listened to this year

Great story about Portland Oregon and racism in the 1920’s. But that’s just the backdrop to a great, very engrossing fiction narrative.

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Wow.

Love, love, love this book! Smart, witty, tragic, beautiful, hopeful novel. I mourn for and want to know all these characters.

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Riveting historical fiction exposing racism in Portland Oregon in the 1920s

I have read the trilogy of mid 19th century novels about the early New York City police force by this author, and very much enjoyed them, so I was hopeful this would not disappoint. A completely different narrative voice, this time female, unspools a compelling and sometimes rather gritty yarn full of fascinating historical details and unique characters. I could go for more of this – I’m wondering if there’s a sequel? Quite unexpected. Had no idea the state of Oregon had such a hideous racist past. A really good listen.

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Great characters, fascinating history

The book was slow in developing but gradually created a panorama of a fascinating era of American history. The author does her research and also offers insights into racism, gender identity, mobsters, and loyalties, not to mention a number of twists and a few heartbreaks.