Follow TV Tropes


Literature / The Hotel New Hampshire

Go To

The Hotel New Hampshire is a 1981 novel by John Irving.

The lives of the Berry children—John, Franny, Frank, Lilly, and Egg—are forever marked by their scheming but ever-optimistic father Win as he drags them along through a series of hotels he attempts to run. The ventures never quite fail, exactly, but none of the hotels ever work out as intended. Due to their clientele, the growing children are exposed to an ever-rotating catalog of eccentric characters, including sex workers who entertain their clients right above the children's heads, a group of anarcho-communists preparing an ill-fated explosive demonstration, and a woman who has decided to live her life as a bear.

Needless to say, their strange upbringing leaves its mark on the family, including narrator son John, whose sexual passion for his own sister Franny soon takes over his entire adulthood. But the lesson the Berry family takes away is that there's no wrong way to live a life, as long as you really live it.


It could be said to be Irving's most typical novel; That Other Wiki had a chart of all the recurring motifs in Irving's fiction (bears, prostitution, the city of Vienna, and so on) and The Hotel New Hampshire was the only one of his books to contain all of them.

Adapted into a 1984 film directed by Tony Richardson and starring Jodie Foster, Beau Bridges, Rob Lowe, and Nastassja Kinski.

Tropes featured include:

  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Franny with Ernst (and Chipper to some extent)
  • Anorgasmia: Subverted with "Screaming Annie" the hooker who fakes very loud orgasms. It later turns out they were not fake.
  • Asexuality: It's never spelled out in so many words, but Lily is definitely an example. She has no interest in sex, and is at times described as directly prudish.
  • Arc Words: "Sorrow floats," "Keep passing the open windows."
  • Advertisement:
  • As Herself: In-universe, with a side-order of Dawson Casting. When Lily's first book, an autobiography of the Berry family, is turned into a movie, Franny ends up playing her sixteen-year-old self in the movie, despite being twenty-four at the time. John describes Franny's performance as the only authentic one in the movie.
  • Bears Are Bad News: Bears real (State o'Maine), costumed (Susie) and metaphorical pervade the book.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: Miss Miscarriage, a radical communist, becomes fond of John and warns him to get the family out of Vienna before her group sets off a bomb.
  • Broken Bird: Both Franny and Susie.
  • Brother–Sister Incest: John and Franny, in a rare case where it doesn't end badly.
  • Coming-of-Age Story: For John and his siblings.
  • Driven to Suicide: Lilly.
  • The Immodest Orgasm: Screaming Annie earned that name for a reason.
  • Known Only by Their Nickname: A surprisingly high percentage of the cast. Most notable is youngest Berry sibling Egg, who earned his nickname before he was even born, when his siblings asked their mother where babies came from. Mary Berry explained that the baby started as "a tiny egg," and the name stuck.
  • Misaimed Fandom: In-universe, Lilly's second book has one.
  • Most Writers Are Writers: Lilly is the author of the family and her family, as it turns out, provides her best material.
  • The Pollyanna: Win is always convinced everything will turn out right this time.
  • Rape and Switch: In the movie Franny and Susie are 'turned gay' by rape and eventually turned back again by the love of a good man. Frank is, however, gay in his own right, leaving the impression that the creator thinks male homosexuality is real but lesbianism is nothing more than a neurotic (and curable) fear of men.
  • Rape as Drama: Franny is sexually assaulted. Backed up by the college football team, her brothers spring into action to track down and punish her assailants.
  • Schemer: Father Win always has a back-up plan.
  • Straight Gay: Frank. One of the criticisms Irving has of the in-universe movie adaptation of Lilly's autobiographical novel is that the movie turned Frank into a Camp Gay stereotype.
  • Taxidermy Terror: The preserved body of the Berry's dead dog Sorrow frightens quite a few people before sinking into the icy waters of the North Atlantic; among other things, it prevents John from losing his virginity and literally frightens his grandfather to death.
  • Terrorists Without a Cause: The radicals in Vienna are nominally Communist, but they're extremely vague about what their actual goals are.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: