Portia is a wife and mother. Portia isn't taking her meds. Portia has fallen in love. This novel sneaks up on you. Its worldview is both romantic and acute, with a tenderness for its characters. But its dreamlike vignettes resolve into surprising suspense. Who decides when the search for meaning becomes a sickness?
September 2023 Indie Next List
“In the Lobby of the Dream Hotel — a place two lovers who can’t be together in the real world might meet — is a beautiful meditation on love, madness, motherhood, and art. Plunkett’s writing is achingly gorgeous and Portia is a character for the ages.”
— Stefanie Kiper, Water Street Bookstore, Exeter, NH
A young mother finds herself caught between a love affair and the wrath of her husband, who will do anything to put an end to it—even use his wife's bipolar diagnosis against her
When faced with newfound feelings for Theo, the drummer of her band, married young mother Portia must decide whether to follow her heart or question her sanity. Going off her medication feels like waking up for the first time. But could this clarity be harmless daydreaming, or a symptom of something more serious?
Portia’s husband, a well-respected prosecutor in their small Vermont town, is convinced of the latter. He retaliates, initiating an intervention, claiming that Portia’s behavior is proof of her bipolar disorder. With lawyer-like cunning, he uses elements from her past to break her resolve until she agrees to being committed to a psychiatric hospital. In the hospital, Portia’s sense of reality is tested, and hard truths about her marriage, her love for Theo, and her most vulnerable hopes and desires are revealed.
In the Lobby of the Dream Hotel is a potent and at times devastating story of stark tenderness. Written like a dream, this novel brings us toward new understandings of the flawed, yearning, multifaceted self.
About the Author
GENEVIEVE PLUNKETT is the author of Prepare Her: Stories. Her fiction has appeared in The O. Henry Prize Stories and The Best Small Fictions, as well as journals such as New England Review, The Southern Review, Crazyhorse, Colorado Review, and Electric Literature. She lives in Vermont with her two children.
"Plunkett applies a soft touch when rendering minds in turmoil, offering both reader and character relief through the escapes of music, love and small-town landscape." —Wadzanai Mhute, The New York Times Book Review
"[An] absorbing novel . . . [A] portrait of a distinctive female imagination navigating the world in which she finds herself, both by choice and not." —Amy Lilly, Seven Days
"Portia’s observations are nothing if not sensual, if not original offerings for the reader." —Geri Lipschultz, Atticus Review
"Bracing . . . Plunkett’s vivid narrative is an intense, dizzying exploration into elusive realities and volatile truths." —Booklist
"[A] perceptive debut novel . . . An incisive portrait of mental health and the search for autonomy." —Publishers Weekly
"A nuanced portrait of one woman’s years of mental and social struggle." —Kirkus Reviews
"Genevieve Plunkett's In the Lobby of the Dream Hotel is an engrossing read that takes readers into the heart of what it means to be a mother, a wife, a creative being, a human with a heart that longs for more. Plunkett's prose sparkles in every paragraph and kept me turning the pages long after my bedtime. Most importantly, her nuanced treatment of the decisions that people managing mental illness must make every day will comfort, inspire, entertain, and enlighten readers." —Christie Tate, New York Times bestselling author of Group
"In the Lobby of the Dream Hotel is a spellbinding novel, alive with feeling and discovery. Plunkett orchestrates an enrapturing story of a woman and mother tethered to a reality she would rather escape with bold jumps in time, nuanced observation, and flights of imagination. A book as much about the mundanities that trap us as it is about creativity’s promise of freedom, In the Lobby of the Dream Hotel is an absolutely brilliant feat. I can’t wait to see what Plunkett does next." —Rachel Yoder, author of Nightbitch
"In the Lobby of the Dream Hotel is a beating heart of flowing paths and urgent questions: how do we tell the difference between our dreams, our fantasies, and our possible futures? How do we step from one life into another, not knowing if the earth under our feet will hold? In this sensitive, suspenseful novel, Genevieve Plunkett fearlessly dances between past and present, between wanting and having, between loves laced with cruelty and loves aching with tenderness and possibility." —Caitlin Horrocks, author of Life Among the Terranauts
"In the Lobby of the Dream Hotel is a truly brilliant novel. This is a story about madness and music, forbidden love, entrapment and escape–all written in Plunkett’s electric and propulsive prose. It’s the most compelling novel I’ve read all year; I couldn’t put it down. Stunning." —Anna Hogeland, author of The Long Answer
"In the Lobby of the Dream Hotel mesmerized me: the quicksilver music of its language, the keenness of its observation, the richness of its empathy. Plunkett has made her protagonist's interior world into a whole lush landscape and filled it with desire, loss, tenderness, humor, and tragedy. The result is a novel full of wild, irresistible life." —Clare Beams, author of The Illness Lesson
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