Thursday, June 17, 2021

Last Summer at the Golden Hotel by Elyssa Friedland

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    Oh, I've been in a bit of a reading slump the past few weeks. I have oodles of books here at home, but I just can't seem to sit still long enough to make a dent in any of them. So frustrating! 

I picked this novel from June's BOTM choices because it looked fun. You know sometimes you get in a slump and keep reading the same type of book over and over, and you just don't realize it. Well, that was me. Reading Last Summer at the Golden Hotel kicked me out of my routine and it was the perfect summer book for me. 

Nostalgia is HUGE in this novel about two families: the Goldmans and the Weingolds. Benny and Louise Goldman, and Amos and Fanny Weingold owned the famous Golden Hotel in the Catskills of New York State. For sixty years, it was a classic summer getaway for Jewish families living in the big city. A week or two spent at the Golden Hotel meant plenty of time for swimming, dancing, endless food, class A entertainment, and plenty of gossip. The Golden was a family tradition for thousands of people over the decades-something very special. 

Now, however, the Catskills are no longer a big draw, and the Golden Hotel is the last remaining resort. Others went out of business or were bought out and turned into casinos or golf courses. The Golden is teetering on the brink of closing. Guest counts are way down; the place needs serious renovation, and now a company wants to buy it and turn it into a casino. Brian Weingold has struggled to keep it afloat, but now must call in both families to spend one last week at the Golden and decide if they want to keep it or sell it. Amos and Fanny, and Louise arrive. Sadly, Benny died a few years before. Louise's daughter Aimee arrives with two of her adult children. Her husband, a doctor, is in serious trouble with the law, and Aimee came to the Golden to get away and figure out what to do with her troubled marriage. Amos and Fanny's grandchildren Phoebe and Michael arrive as well. Phoebe is an Instagram influencer, and Michael has a secret he is afraid to share with his family. Peter, Brian's twin, stayed home with his wife. Peter is a super successful lawyer who is only concerned about making money. 

Aimee, Brian, and Peter grew up at the Golden. They have so many memories, just being there brings back so many wonderful memories. It may be run down, but the Golden still has some magic. Will the family decide to sell or to keep it, and try to bring it back to life? Over the course of one week, you'll get to know both families and understand the dynamics between the two. The staff who work at the Golden are a treat, and you can't turn a page without grinning. This novel is truly a nostalgic read--even for those of us who have never been to the Catskills. 

I so enjoyed reading this book. It was delightful, even if a bit sad in parts. If anything, it is a gentle reminder of days gone by full of happy memories and people we love who have passed on. It's also a reminder that in our busy world, sometimes the best vacation is to unplug and return to simple pleasures in life, spent with the people who matter the most to us. 

Rating: 5/6 for an absolutely satisfying read about days gone by, the intrusion of today's high speed world, and reconnecting to family and what is important. A part of Americana that has slowly faded away, but remains a golden memory. 

Available in paperback, ebook, and audio.

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