Sunday, September 18, 2011

A Small Hotel by Robert Olen Butler

In A Small Hotel, Robert Olen Butler traces one night in a marriage; the night it was to have been dissolved.  Kelly Hayes was to go to the courthouse to sign the final divorce papers.  Instead she flees to New Orleans and signs into the hotel where she and her husband Michael met twenty years ago.  Michael Hayes has tried to move on and is at a weekend away with his new love, a woman twenty years his junior.

As the night progresses, the couple's marriage and where it has strained and fallen apart is explored.  The words that might have been said but were left unspoken, the assumptions that were made in error, all the small items that lead to separation and disillusionment.  The novel moves back and forth between Kelly and Michael, often showing an event from each one's viewpoint, and the reader can see the miles of space between their interpretation of what occurred.

Readers will be touched by the careful exploration Butler performs as well as his lyrical, haunting writing.  His insight into what women want from men, what men want from women and how each is shaped by their past familial relationships will make the reader reevaluate their own relationships.  This book is recommended for all readers interested in understanding the human condition and how we relate to each other.

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