A Small Hotel

A Small Hotel



On the afternoon of the day when she fails to show up in a judge's chambers in Pensacola to finalize her divorce, Kelly Hays swerves her basic-black Mercedes into the valet spot and thumps hard into the curb and pops the gearshift into park, and then she feels a silence rush through her chest and limbs and mind that should terrify her. But she yields herself to it. She brings her face forward and lays her forehead gently against the steering wheel. She sits in front of the Olivier House on Toulouse Street in the New Orleans French Quarter, a hotel she knows quite well. Like this present silence overcoming the welter in her, before she stepped from her house in Pensacola a little over three hours ago she yanked her hair back into a ponytail and simply stroked a hasty touch of lipstick onto her lips but she then was moved to put on her favorite little black dress, a sleeveless sheath, a prt--porter Chanel she'd had for years, put it on slowly in the muffled silence of her walk-in closet, listening to the Chanel's faint rustle going over her, letting the silk lick her down the thighs. She turned forty-nine years old two months ago on her deck, alone with a single-malt, looking out at the Bayou Texar going dark in the twilight. She wore makeup that night, for herself, prompted by the Scotch, and she wore her hair in a French twist, and she knew, in spite of everything, that she looked thirty-something, even early-thirty-something. And she knows now that she looks all of forty-nine. All and more as the door to her car opens and she lifts her face to a gaunt, long-jawed, middle-aged man, a man she recognizes.


"A sleek, erotic, and suspenseful drama about men who cannot say the word love and the women they harm . . . Butler executes a plot twist of profound proportions in this gorgeously controlled, unnerving, and beautifully revealing tale of the consequences of emotional withholding."--Donna Seaman, Booklist (starred review)

"A Small Hotel is a gorgeous, hot-blade of a novel, infused with lyric gracea page-turner that tracks the unexpected turns of a marriage. Reading it, I could not pull myself away. It is the story of a man and a womanof love, betrayal and the cost of silence. Revelatory and precise,A Small Hotel is a gem of great literary fiction which contends that the life we live every day is not pedestrian, but charged, lucent. It can turn on a dime by what we say and what we fail to say."

--Dawn Tripp, author ofGame of Secrets

"Visions of the past arise in husband and wife on the brink of divorce, as metaphoric, coded conversations, minute gestures, and hurtful silences threaten grave consequences in this tightly focused, intensely imagined, masterfully omniscient novel. Robert Olen Butler understands the failings of men, and he understanding the failings of women just as well.

--Susan Vreeland, author ofGirl in Hyacinth Blue

"Thistiny, romantic novel could be read at a single sitting, but it's best savored in small slices, accompanied by the quiet ticking of the heart. A marriage on the rocks, a race against time, the duel between past and present that exists in every living soul. As a woman, I particularly admired the portrayal of the husband, Michael, the type of silent man who is an enigma to women and a source of great pain in our relationships with him. Through Butler's insightful rendering, Michael's point of view came as a revelation."

Janet Fitch, author ofWhite Oleander

"Intriguing . . . beautifully told."

New York Journal of Books

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