Ladies' Night at Finbar's Hotel is a short story collection by seven female Irish writers that ties together to create a novel about a once time down at heel hotel that has recently been revamped and reopened and now caters to the rich and famous.
The stories are by Maeve Binchy, Clare Boylan, Emma Donoghue, Anne Haverty, Eilis Ni Dhuibhne, Kate O'Riordan, and Deirdre Purcell, but in an interesting twist, the reader is not told who wrote which story. Each one has a slightly different style and tone, and for those who are fans of any of the above named writers it may well be an easy bit of detection to work out which story they wrote, but for the reader who has no knowledge of the women involved in editor Dermot Bolger's exciting and moving book, it is a fascinating way to be introduced to a group of new (to the reader) writers.
Each story is focused on one woman and her night at Finbar's. All seven women in the book are staying at the hotel on the same night, and throughout the stories there are glimpses of the other characters that you will meet later on, or you have already met. For those who are yet to be found (the woman typing in the lobby, for example, whose story comes near the end of the book but who is mentioned in a number of earlier stories), the reader waits in anticipation to discover who she is and what her reasons for being at Finbar's really are. For those whom the reader knows all about, there is a certain satisfaction in knowing more than the protagonist whose story is currently being read. It's wonderful how the stories all tie together, and Finbar's deserves a second reading in order to find all the clues.
There are tales of failed love and love rekindled, of lives lived and lives lost, of families being torn apart and others being brought back together. Finbar's has a history, and despite the new and improved look, despite the makeover and the shininess, that history can't help but show through.
An enjoyable, thought provoking book that I will certainly read more than once.