‘A young writer is fictionalising the lives of Dolly’s guests.
Will it get him loved or killed – or both?
– Dolly Considine’s Hotel
[ About the Book ]
Dolly Considine runs a late-night drinking establishment catering to the needs of thirsty politicians and theatricals in Dublin’s legendary drinking area, the Catacombs.
Julian Ryder (aka Paddy Butler) is an eighteen-year-old aspiring writer in need of shelter from his bullying older brother.
As the new live-in lounge assistant at Dolly Considine’s Hotel, Julian soon embroils himself in the shebeen’s gossip – and the guests’ bedsheets – and turns Dolly’s entourage into fodder for his literary ambitions. Reality quickly becomes difficult to separate from fantasy…
Set against the run-up to the Pro-life Constitutional Amendment of September 1983 and moving fluidly between the 1950s of Dolly’s youth and Julian’s Summer of Unrequited Love, the hotel becomes a stage for farce and tragedy. Between Julian’s fictions, Dolly’s Secrets, and narrow party politics – and featuring a papier-mâché figure of Mother Ireland giving birth and clashing sword-wielding dancers – this rich cocktail threatens to blow them, and even Ireland itself, wide apart.
[ My Review ]
Dolly Considine’s Hotel by Eamon Somers was first published July 8th with Unbound, ‘a crowdfunding publisher that works for everybody‘. Eamon had toyed with the idea of self-publishing for many years but it was in 2016 when he was inspired to go down this route after attending a writers’ conference where he heard about the concept of the crowd funding publisher.
Dolly Considine’s Hotel is described as ‘a blend of history, tragedy and comedy, grounded in Ireland’s near political past and pro-life lobby. Exploring issues of identity, family, sexuality, women’s rights, religion and politics with wit in an unforgettable story about the differences between the way we see ourselves and the way others see us’
I knew that Eamon Somers was going to test me with his debut and he did. Although set in the two different timelines of the 1950s and 1980s, there is a strong sense of the avant-garde from the prose. I have never read any James Joyce but I have read many novels about James Joyce, most recently Nora by Nuala O’ Connor. I would hazard a guess that Eamon Somers was inspired by the writings of James Joyce when he put pen to paper and created a piece of literature with an almost experimental feel from it. I can honestly say I don’t think I’ve read anything quite like it.
Dolly Considine is the purveyor of the Curragh House Hotel in Dublin. It is the local for an extremely eclectic bunch of individuals, from politicians to actors and everything in between. Dolly is a very determined and a forward-thinking woman who knows which side her bread is buttered on. When she originally took over the hotel in the 1950s after her Aunt died, it was a business in debt. Her family wanted to see the back of it and sell it up, with her parents determined that Dolly would settle back home and follow in her mother’s footsteps as the wife of an ambitious politician. But Dolly Considine put her foot down responding to her mother’s comments with her own….
“You mean, to be Daddy’s trinket, paraded across the constituency to show the voters what a normal happy family we are.”
Dolly defied her parents remaining at the hotel and now, almost thirty years later, she crosses paths with Julian Ryder (aka Paddy Butler). Julian is a young writer who dreams of being a literary success. He leaves home in a bid to escape his older brother, and with plans to go to England, but rather bizarre circumstances lead him to the door of the Curragh House Hotel. A job as a bar assistant with the added bonus of accommodation included is more than Julian could have hoped for. The personalities that frequent the hotel provide the perfect fodder for Julian’s writing and he explores possible scenarios through his Summer of Unrequited Love, a curious collection of stories that are littered throughout the novel. The Curragh House Hotel is also the home of a small theatre with a Russian director who is very ‘hands-on’. He is a lover of vodka with quite an expressive and diva-ish personality, leading to some heated scenes between himself and Julian.
One very important point to note when reading Dolly Considine’s Hotel is the chapter titles. This little nugget of information will let you know whether you are in reality or submerged in the thoughts and imagination of Julian’s writing. I did get a little confused with this and possibly mixed up my fact with fiction on occasion but once realised it all made sense.
Dolly Considine’s Hotel is a very quirky and unique debut. In retrospect I think it is a book that probably deserves a second reading. Concentration is of utmost importance as the reader is taken on a journey across decades and jumping frequently into the mind of Julian Ryder. It is an unconventional journey with well-depicted caricatures and madcap antics culminating in a complex and unforgettable reading experience.
[ Bio ]
Eamon grew up in Dublin and became a campaigner in the fledgling gay liberation movement, serving three terms as spokesperson for Ireland’s National Gay Federation. He moved to London in the mid 1980’s following the collapse of the window company. After two years working with Haringey Council’s Lesbian and Gay Unit (including the anti-Clause 28 campaign) he became involved in social housing development, which became his chosen career.
Eamon studied at the People’s College in 1970s Dublin, before going on to study at London’s Goldsmiths and later Birkbeck College. Eamon’s short stories have been published in literary magazines including Tees Valley Writer, Automatic Pilot, and Chroma. The Journal of Truth and Consequences nominated his Fear of Landing for a Pushcart Prize, and Nataí Bocht was included in Quare Fellas, a collection of LGBT+ fiction published by Basement Press in Ireland.
Eamon is the father of three wonderful children. He and his Civil Partner Tomás have two lovely grandchildren. They increasingly divide their time between London, Dublin, and other parts of Ireland.
Dolly Considine’s Hotel is his debut novel.