Faye once again vividly illuminates history with her fiction ... While the violence of Mafia rule is nothing new, Oregon’s deeply racist past is lesser known, and both are brought to life in this remarkably fluid fiction, framed as a love letter and based in fact.
The Paragon Hotel is set a century ago, but its themes of social and cultural upheaval feel sufficiently fresh that you might think twice about calling Lyndsay Faye’s sixth novel historical fiction. But calling it terrific—not for a minute should you hesitate to do that ... While compelling, the two narratives in Hotel aren’t particularly complementary, and there are moments of dislocation and a need to re-orient as the action switches back and forth between coasts and plotlines, not to mention splendidly named characters ... The great strength of “The Paragon Hotel” is Ms. Faye’s voice—a blend of film noir and screwball comedy ... The jauntiness of the prose doesn’t hide the fact that Ms. Faye has serious business on her mind. At bottom, The Paragon Hotel is about identity and about family—those we’re born into and those we create.
Faye brings readers a feisty, feminist heroine ... stuffed with danger, luscious period clothing and zinging Jazz Age patter ... As only the best historical fiction can do, The Paragon Hotel captures a certain period in time and gives the reader ample opportunity to draw connections with the present day. Faye's talent sparkles like champagne bubbles and bugle-bead fringe on a flapper's gown.
In The Paragon Hotel, [Faye has] written a rich, electric story set at the turn of the last century in Harlem and Portland, excavating darkness so very similar to what we face to today ... History as litany can be boring. Woven into a brilliant story, you might even miss the lesson. But message or no message, lesson to be learned or not, Lindsay Faye has written a crackling historical mystery in language that sings in its dialogue, description, and narrative.
All I can say is that whatever heartache [Faye] went through during her extensive research was well worth it. This is her masterpiece, and should be read in high school and college literature courses as a truly American story that provides a snapshot of the horrors of racism during the Prohibition era of the 1920s ... The Paragon Hotel is a triumph for Lyndsay Faye. As I started reading it, I found her prose almost reminiscent of classic writers like Dickens and Brontë ... This challenging read deserves a wide audience of all ages to consume it.
Faye more than delivers on this auspicious premise with a ravishing novel that rings with nervy elegance and simmers with gnawing tension ... This historical novel, which carries strong reverberations of present-day social and cultural upheavals, contains a message from a century ago that’s useful to our own time: 'We need to do better at solving things' ... A riveting multilevel thriller of race, sex, and mob violence that throbs with menace as it hums with wit.
Faye takes a simultaneously exuberant and weighty approach to historical mystery in her memorable latest ... What starts as a bit of a Prohibition-era crime romp becomes increasingly relevant as issues of mental illness, race, and gender identity take on greater significance. In addition to illuminating Portland’s unsavory history of racism, Faye’s novel vividly illustrates how high the stakes could—and can still—be for those claiming and defending their own identities.