Federation Book Club reads “The Hotel Neversink” by Adam O’Fallon Price
Since only two of us (me included) loved this book, I want to start by explaining why. We both felt the point of the story was to depict the rise and fall of an opulent hotel during a period of grandeur in the Catskills. The other four felt the story had no main point.
Their complaints included, “Disappointing,” “Too many characters lacking development,” “Plot holes,” “Explanation of the mystery was too fast and too short at the end,” “Too many tangents,” “Lack of tension,” “Not suspenseful enough,” and—my favorite— “Not ready for prime time.”
“At least it was a fast read,” said one member, reminding me of the old Catskills joke about one hotel’s food not being good enough, but “At least there was a lot of it.” Speaking of the Catskills again, it’s probably no coincidence that our Hotel Neversink’s two fans spent time there. We agreed that Adam O’Fallon Price did a great job depicting the hotel era of the “Jewish Alps,” AKA the “Borscht Belt.” While being excluded from country clubs, Jewish entrepreneurs created a vacationland of their own, packing Jewish-owned resorts. Countless singers and comedians made their names there, but if you’re looking for another version of “Dirty Dancing,” this book isn’t it.
This is a decade-by-decade evolution to devolution of a particular hotel, most probably based on one as extensive as Grossingers. A string of murders of young children in the area was related to the great Sikorsky family who owned and ran the fictitious Hotel Neversink. For readers of literary fiction where not every loose end is spelled out, who don’t mind certain plotlines laced with ambiguity, and character sketches that give you only enough to understand the over-arching essence, I’d say this “quick read” is well worth your time.
The Federation Book Club meets via Zoom at 4:00 PM on the first Thursday of every month.