The Hotel New Hampshire

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The Hotel New Hampshire is a 1981 novel by John Irving. It tells the story of the Berrys, an eccentric family, as they attempt to run a series of hotels.

It could be said to be Irving's most typical novel; That Other Wiki has a chart of all the recurring motifs in Irving's fiction (bears, prostitution, the city of Vienna, and so on) and The Hotel New Hampshire is the only one of his books that contains all of them.

It was made into a film in 1984, starring Jodie Foster, Beau Bridges, Rob Lowe, Nastassja Kinski and Wilford Brimley.


Tropes used in The Hotel New Hampshire include:
  • Arc Words: "Keep passing the open windows."
  • Broken Bird: Both Franny and Susie.
  • Brother-Sister Incest: John and Franny, in a rare case where it doesn't end badly. It also isn't played for titillation value, either -- their years-long attraction to each other is perceived by both as a disaster waiting to happen, which they finally avert by burning through the attraction in a marathon of sex deliberately pushed past the point where neither wants to continue, until they basically come out the other side no longer desiring each other. Sadly, The Movie plays this scene for laughs.
  • Coming of Age Story: For John and his siblings.
  • Everything's Worse with Bears: Bears real (State o'Maine), costumed (Susie) and metaphorical pervade the book.
  • Hollywood Homely: Susie in the movie.
  • Hot Guy, Ugly Wife: Eventually, John and Susie.
  • Jumping on a Grenade: Win Berry and the radicals' bomb. Her survives, but is blinded.
  • Misaimed Fandom: In-universe, Lilly's second book has one.
    • Misaimed Fandoms are common in Irving's works.
  • Rape as Backstory: Susie the Bear.
  • Rape as Drama: Frannie.
  • Rape Is OK When It Is Bear On Male: Part of the elaborate revenge on Chipper Dove is making him think he's about to be raped by a bear (really Susie) that's in the habit of raping men.
  • Suicide: Lilly, because she felt she could not live up to the expectations she thought everyone had of her.
  • Symbolism: Sorrow, both alive and dead.
    • Lilly's dwarfism.
  • Taxidermy Terror: The preserved body of the Berrys' dead dog Sorrow frightens quite a few people before sinking into the icy waters of the North Atlantic; among other things, it prevents John from losing his virginity and literally frightens his grandfather to death.
  • Terrorists Without a Cause: The radicals in Vienna are nominally Communist, but they're extremely vague about what their actual goals are other than violence for violence's sake.