Years ago I was a member of the Quality Paperback Book Club (QPB). Looking back I think what I enjoyed the most about being a member was receiving the QPB’s monthly catalog, happily thumbing through it and reading about all kinds promising books. A few books like Kyria Abrahams’s I’m Perfect, You’re Doomed: Tales from a Jehovah’s Witness Upbringing and Kevin Roose’s The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner’s Semester at America’s Holiest University I ended up buying through QPB. But a number of books such as Ian Frazier’s Travels In Siberia, Guy Walters’ Hunting Evil: The Nazi War Criminals Who Escaped and the Quest to Bring Them to Justice, and Debra Dickerson’s The End of Blackness: Returning the Souls of Black Folk to Their Rightful Owners I didn’t buy but instead borrowed from my public library.
One book I saw advertised in the QPB catalog was Jamie Ford’s 2009 novel Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. Even though I never purchased or borrowed it nevertheless I loved its cover art. Perhaps because of its lovely cover art I’ve always had a soft spot for this novel I’ve never yet. So, when one of my book clubs opted to read it, I borrowed a copy from my public library and gave it a read. The bad news is even though I read Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet I didn’t make it to that month’s meeting. The good news is despite my little soft spot for this novel I kinda had low expectations of it but in the end, still managed to enjoy it.
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet in one of those dual timeline novels. In this case, our story begins in the 1990s with the purchase and renovation of a long-shuttered hotel in what used to be the city’s Japanese section of town. Later, action shifts to World War II and bounces back and forth between the two eras. During the war years a young Chinese-American boy falls in love with Keiko, a Japanese-American teen girl. This angers the boy’s father, who bitterly hates all Japanese blaming them for Japan’s brutal occupation of China. To make matters worse, Keiko and her family find themselves imprisoned in internment camps along with other Japanese-Americans.
Like I mentioned, this novel ended up being a pleasant surprise. Another pleasant surprise was the Seattle jazz scene (of which I knew nothing about prior to reading Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet) playing a central role in the novel. When it comes to Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet I have no complaints. I can see why my book club, as well as others have chosen to read it.