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3.9 out of 5 stars
Heartbreak Hotel
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 3 December 2013
What a delight to meet old Buffy again, at 70 nine years older than when we met him in The Ex-Wives (see my review), and Deborah Moggach's warm and earthy humour has not faded either in the twenty years since the earlier novel was published. Or at least this is this is true of the first half of the book.

Buffy is tired of modern London where familiar areas are constantly being redeveloped and where life-styles seem to him to be becoming steadily seedier. So when a comfortable old flame has died and left him her B&B in "Knockton", an old-fashioned friendly little market-town just inside Wales, he decides to move there and run the guest-house himself. The place is distinctly run down and Buffy is impractical - a sturdy local woman does the essential work - and it attracts only a few passing guests. But Buffy is the sort of person to whom guests tell their problems - in one case a wife complains that her husband doesn't know how to talk to women. Now that is something that the much-married Buffy has always been good at, and it occurs to him to earn a little extra money by running residential courses helping divorced people to cope. He would recruit locals to teach people to do the things for which they had always relied on their ex-partners - one week devoted to learning about the inside of cars, another week to cooking, another to gardening. Buffy himself would run a course called How to Talk to Women.

In the first half of the book the chapters about Buffy are interspersed with initially unrelated chapters, each a gem in itself, about Londoners whose marriages or relationships have broken up and who feel lonely, bereft and incompetent: Monica (64), Amy (31), Harold (56) and Andy(40).

Of course they all eventually end up on Courses for Divorces, and, for various reasons, they find such attraction in Knockton that they come to live there. On the first course it is only Amy, together with eight other people we have not met before and who are seen, as it were, from the outside rather than from the inside, and new characters keep on being introduced. I have to say that now, about half-way through the novel, the book loses most of its subtlety, the humour slips from time to time into stereotypes and farce; there are a lot of couplings by people of all ages (Moggach is good on the longings and misgivings of elderly singletons); and the plotting seems to be rather formulaic. At the happy ending even Buffy's surviving ex-wives turn up, and the house is full of his very extended family. It's all warm-hearted - and the last three pages are, tongue-in-cheek, totally incredible.
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51 of 55 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 28 February 2013
When retired actor Russell "Buffy" Buffery inherits a guesthouse in Wales from an old friend, he decides to move there. Buffy is fed up of the hustle and bustle of London and needs a new challenge.
Several months later, Buffy is enjoying his new life at Myrtle House in Wales, but clearly not making enough money to maintain the run down B&B. Buffy needs to fill the beds and comes up with the idea of 'Courses for Divorces'. With a few broken marriages behind him, Buffy is no stranger to the marriage-go-round and decides to run residential courses for people who have recently split up and find themselves re-learning all those skills they never thought they'd need again.
Buffy's various courses attract an interesting cast of characters to Myrtle House and Deborah Moggach writes about them with plenty of humour. The characters and their situations are well described and the story is witty and entertaining.
A thoroughly enjoyable book and would love to see it made into a film.

I've read and enjoyed several books by this author, but I seem to have overlooked The Ex-Wives. Buffy first appeared in The Ex-Wives and the story follows his love affair with Celeste and includes his various ex-wives and offspring. Please note, though, Heartbreak Hotel is a stand-alone novel and you do not need to read The Ex-Wives first.
Also, Twin Beds: Christmas at Heartbreak Hotel, is a short, free ebook and follows Buffy and guests, during the festive season. I've read this one and recommend it, especially if you have enjoyed reading Heartbreak Hotel.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Deborah Moggach writes with a shrewd wit as she describes the relationships of her cast of thousands at a delapidated old hotel in the country town of Knockton, in Wales. This is a lighthearted book that would unveil many of its hidden perceptive gems on a second read.

To his surprise, aged Russell Buffery known as Buffy during his acting career, inherits an old B&B from his former landlady and friend, Bridie. Although he's a Londoner through and through, Buffy is becoming disillusioned with the way the capital is going and decides to up sticks to the country and try his hand at running a B&B.
The place struggles to make ends meet, so Buffy decides to advertise the place as a haven for divorcees and the abandoned. Here they can learn the skills that their partners formerly took responsibility for. Various weeks offer car maintenance, cookery, gardening and 'How to talk to women'. As a bonus, Buffy gets his car serviced, his garden weeded and the cookery done by his paying guests.
This very clever precept is the basis for a wealth of interactions and new relationships, as Ms Moggach lets her characters loose in Myrtle House.

I listened to this on Audible, which didn't really do the book justice because of the problem with referring back to remember who is who. It's a bit chick-lit in many ways but it is the underlying wit and perception that raises this book above other books of this genre. Those of our book group who had read Deborah Moggach's best book, Tulip Fever, didn't feel it was of the same calibre, but this one felt as though it would make an excellent TV series.

Deborah Moggach recently attended the Dubai Literary Festival and was hugely entertaining. I highly recommend seeing her if she comes your way.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 31 July 2013
This is an ambiable-enough amble through the Welsh borders in the company of a repertory cast of necessarily diverse characters. Central to all this is our hero, Buffy (the vamp slayer?), veteran survivor of numerous marriages and a career on stage, and now relocated to a mythical Welsh town that is so full of real-life values, that no one can resist its retro charms. Buffy turns an inherited hotel into a life-crisis rehab station, and redemption for all comes bouncing out of every corner.
After "Best Marigold Hotel" with its exotic settings and highly colourful characters, this feels like writing by numbers as multiple characters are introduced, and then steered towards predictable tie-ups with each other via the inadvertent match-making skills of their host.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 28 March 2014
I don't get why people like this author at all. This was even worse than Best Exotic Marigold which itself was pretty appalling. I find the authors use of cliches and stereotypes particularly annoying and difficult to get past.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Heartbreak Hotel is a pleasant, warm, enjoyable read. A larger than life collection of characters in a small Welsh village connect and disconnect with each other. There is a shaggy dog story feel to the book overall.

The basic mix takes an elderly bon viveur much married ex actor with a brood of children and step children and a warmly raconteur filled life. He inherits a ramshackle hotel from an ex lover, and decamps to Wales to inhabit it. Wales is more filled with warm, companionable, quirky eccentric people who are aware of each others' business and comings and goings than London was. London may well have been filled with equally warm, companionable, quirky eccentric people, but the people were more isolated from each other. The quirky hotel, or quirky elderly actor seem to act as a magnet to bring all these people together. Great fun is had by all. Unlikely couples get together. The middle-aged and the elderly are also amongst the ones getting it together. Sex isn't just for the young.Life exists outside London.

There is nothing wrong with this book, except as I drew towards the close I did begin to feel 'so what' It reminded me that what I really appreciated in Moggach was what I found in a much earlier work Tulip Fever which still lingers in the memory - more BITE as well as quirky humour. Heartbreak Hotel was good fun, but I know I will soon forget it

I received this as a digital copy for review from the publishers
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39 of 44 people found the following review helpful
TOP 50 REVIEWERon 13 February 2013
Russell 'Buffy' Buffery, an ageing actor living in London, is very surprised when he inherits from an old friend, Myrtle House, a dilapidated bed and breakfast in rural Wales. Buffy is tired of the hustle and bustle of London, and when his daughter visits and he has to resort to taking a tray out to her and serve tea in her car because there is nowhere for her to park, Buffy makes the decision to start a whole new life in Wales, much to the surprise (and amusement) of his adult children. However, Buffy finds that filling beds at the B & B is not as easy as he thought and, with the roof leaking and the window sashes rotting, he realises that he will need to come up with a plan to make more money. Buffy then has a brain wave; having been through the marriage mill himself, and thinking he has spotted a niche in the market, he decides to run residential courses for people who have recently been divorced and find themselves lacking the skills their partner possessed; and so, 'Courses for Divorces' is born. Buffy feels that his profession as an actor qualifies him more than adequately to be the tutor for conversation classes, especially his planned 'How to Talk to Women' classes, but for the more practical aspects of his course, such as: 'Basic Cookery', 'Gardening for Beginners' and 'Basic Car Maintenance', Buffy realises he will need to hire people to help. Enter Nolan, a bronzed, curly-headed car mechanic, with the perfect profile, who is ideal for Buffy's car maintenance classes, and sure to be a hit with the female clients, and he is just one of the tutors we meet in the course of this entertaining story.

Soon Buffy's B & B starts to fill with a cast of slightly damaged individuals - there is Amy, a make-up artist working in the film industry, whose boyfriend, Neville, dumps her after losing his job; there is Harold, a would-be writer, whose wife has left him for a younger woman, having told him that she is not a lesbian, she just happened to fall in love with another woman; and there is Andy, a hypochondriac postman, who worries about brain tumours and who finds himself unhappily married to, and then separated from, a rather overpowering woman he cannot communicate with. All of these, and others, converge at Myrtle House - or 'Heartbreak Hotel' as Buffy's children refer to it - to (hopefully) become more enlightened and empowered individuals. But is Buffy, with three ex-wives and several failed relationships behind him, the ideal life coach? And do Buffy's residential courses turn out quite the way he planned or, indeed, how his customers expected? Obviously I have to leave that for prospective readers to discover.

I found this novel, from the author of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, light-hearted and amusing and I read it from cover to cover in one sitting. Deborah Moggach describes her settings and characters with enthusiasm and empathy, deftly highlighting both the pathos and humour present in human interactions, making this a warm and entertaining story and one I would recommend if you are looking for a light and enjoyable bedtime, downtime or weekend read.

3.5 Stars.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 30 January 2014
Having enjoyed the film Exotic Marigold Hotel I selected this book as a likely good read. I was wrong about that and had to force myself to read it thinking it might get better as it went along. There were far too many characters, introduced one after the other so I couldn't remember who half of them were when they reappeared later. The plot seemed silly and cheesy rather than funny, with highly predictable outcomes for all. I didn't laugh once but felt quite a sense of accomplishment for actually finishing it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 1 February 2014
Its not very often i get so near the end of a book and not even finish it but sadly that`s what happened here. Far too many characters in this book, so perhaps apart from Buffy i just didnt feel anything towards any of them...as in, whats going to happen next and how do things pan out for that character. I put this book down many times and struggled back with it but in the end i had to admit i just wasnt enjoying it. Sorry!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 31 October 2013
Was it just me, or is this book completely confusing! The write-up explained that the book was a hilarious comedy, but I'm sorry to say I did not laugh once. On the contrary I found it quite sad that things like divorce, illness etc. are meant to be funny. The lead character also seemed to take a lot of advantage of other people, which I did not like. Sorry!
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