Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Frangipani Hotel: Review and Giveaway

Ghosts!  The Frangipani Hotel: Stories by Violet Kupersmith is a collection of short fiction based on traditional Vietnamese tales, which features the presence of the supernatural in the form of ghosts.  I'm not terribly familiar with ghost stories as a genre, so I consulted Wikipedia, as usual, for more insight.

"A ghost story may be any piece of fiction, or drama, that includes a ghost, or simply takes as a premise the possibility of ghosts or characters' belief in them."

Simple enough to understand, this is an appropriate description for the short stories in the book The Frangipani Hotel, which will be available to the public on April 1, 2014.  The nine short stories in this collection take place in the United States as well as Vietnam, and deftly envelop subjects and themes which bring Vietnamese culture to life vividly, including family relationships, story-telling (within the stories), the post-Vietnam War experience, food, and also, as mentioned before, ghosts.

You may or may not believe in ghosts, but I imagine you do want to learn more about the ghosts in The Fragipani Hotel.  Most notably, these are not your average, garden-variety ghosts, who make a career of haunting and scaring people.  The  ghosts in these stories are beguiling, and appear to be regular folks--at least initially.  Somewhat unexpectedly, I loved to read about these ghosts.  Slowly and skillfully, the author makes them appear more strange, until you realize you're dealing with supernatural beings.  In the second story, Reception, which takes place in the Old Quarter of Hanoi at the dilapidated Frangipani Hotel ("the Frangi"), the main character, Phi, meets an attractive, extremely thirsty girl in room 205 with "dark, dark", "liquid eyes", who's been taking a very long bath.  He senses that the girl and the situation are rather odd, although he does not understand what's going on.  In the third story, Skin and Bones, Mrs. Tran sends her teenage daughters, Thuy and Kieu, from their home in Houston, TX, to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam to visit Grandma Tran, because Mrs. Tran wants Thuy to lose some weight.  Instead, Thuy meets a vendor there, who wears a straw hat and a kerchief that covers her face, who makes her delicious Vietnamese sandwiches, bánh mì, which cause Thuy's stomach to "gurgle in anticipation".  (Usually I order my beloved phở at Vietnamese restaurants, but next time I may order bánh mì.)  In the seventh story, Turning Back (which is probably my favorite story in this collection), the main character, Phuong Nguyen, meets a naked septuagenarian outside in the early morning while at her job at Kwon's World Grocery in Houston, Vo Van Hiep, who explains his nakedness with a very unusual secret.

Violet Kupersmith
This entire collection of short fiction is bewitching and well written.  The first story, Boat Story, and the last story, Descending Dragon, are connected, and all of the stories are imaginative.  It was hard to stop reading The Frangipani Hotel once I settled down with the book, and it kept me up later than I'd planned on a few nights.  I enjoyed the way that the ghosts are introduced in the stories, and how it gradually becomes clear that they are otherworldly beings. The Frangipani Hotel is an exceptional and exquisite debut by Violet Kupersmith, and I look forward to reading future work by this author. 

Win a copy of this captivating book and be among the first to read it!  The publisher, Spiegel & Grau, is generously offering a giveaway for a copy of The Frangipani Hotel (U.S. only).

  • To enter this giveaway, simply leave a comment. 
  • For another chance at winning, become a follower of this blog, or let me know that you're already a follower.
  • For an additional chance, post about this contest on your blog, Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter. 
  • For one extra chance, mention ghost stories you've enjoyed reading. 

Enter by 5 PM PDT on Monday, April 7. One winner will be selected randomly and announced on Tuesday, April 8.

Special thanks to Lisa from TLC for sending me an advance reader's edition of this book.  For more reviews and features, please visit the other stops on TLC's book tour for The Frangipani Hotel.


  1. Wonderful review Suko. The Frangipani Hotel sound interesting even though I do not know very much about Vietnamese culture. I've been seeing a lot of short story collections lately. A ghost story I've enjoyed: Shadowy Horses by Susanna Kearsley. I am a follower and would love to win this collection. Thanks for the giveaway.

    1. Pat, thanks for stopping by, and for mentioning a ghost story that you enjoyed. I will look that one up online.

  2. A captivating book which interests me greatly. Thanks for this giveaway. I am an e-mail subscriber.

  3. A great feature and wonderful review which caught my interest. A very intriguing book. Many thanks. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

  4. I don't really believe in ghosts but I'm intrigued since these stories are based on Vietnamese tales.

  5. No, no, no! I don't read stories about ghosts. Just not my cup of bath water...oops I meant tea.

  6. "bewitching" is an excellent word for this book! I don't generally ready ghost stories but I do enjoy them from time to time, and this one sounds great!

    Thanks for being a part of the tour.

  7. Great commentary Suko.

    I like ghost stories but I know very little about Vietnamese folklore. This sounds different and intriguing.

  8. I'd love to make a reservation at this hotel.

    Great review Suko. I don't normally do 'ghost' stories but this sounds like my kind of story, these ghosts like my kid of ghosts (IE Not scary).

  9. I'm a follower :D I don't normally do short stories however who can resist ghost stories. Good luck everyone.

    Lainy http://www.alwaysreading.net

  10. I am glad to hear that you enjoyed this one so much! It definitely sounds interesting :)

  11. The Frangipani Hotel sounds deliciously creepy Suko. Please enter me. Thanks!

  12. Wow, I thought that it is a real hotel at first and started searching for it on http://www.reservationcounter.com/. I'm still a bit sad, I'd also love to stay at the hotel from The Shining :D I'm totally in for this book!

  13. This sounds like such a wonderful collection of stories. I do have an eGalley so I need to find time for it. Wonderful review

  14. This book sounds so good! My favorite ghost story is Turn of the Screw, if that counts haha. I follow you on GFC!

  15. This looks good. I like short stories. Thanks for the chancel!

    1. Rebecca, you are the winner of this book! Please email me as I do not have your email address. Thanks! :)


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