The Frangipani Hotel by Violet Kupersmith

Title: The Frangipani Hotel
Author: Violet Kupersmith

Genre: Fiction (Short Stories / Contemporary / Vietnam / Vietnamese-Americans / Cross-Cultural Experiences / Supernatural Themes / Folk Lore)
Publisher/Publication Date: Spiegel & Grau (4/1/2014)
Source: TLC Book Tours

Rating: Loved.
Did I finish?: I did.
One-sentence summary: Nine chilling and atmospheric short stories about Vietnam.
Reading Challenges: E-book, NetGalley & Edelweiss

Do I like the cover?: Love it. It reminds me of 'Boat Story', the piece that opens this collection.

I'm reminded of...: Aimee Bender, Elizabeth Hand, Sara Maitland, Ludmilla Petrushevskaya

First line: The only photograph I have of my father doesn't show his face., from 'Reception'.

Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Borrow or buy, stat!

Why did I get this book?: I'm a short story fan.

Review: I loved this volume of short stories, right from the first page. Reminiscent of Aimee Bender, Elizabeth Hand, Sara Maitland, and Ludmilla Petrushevskaya, Kupersmith's stories have that wonderful mix of mood, slightly supernatural-y elements, and lovely language you just want to pluck out and savor.

These nine stories are set in Vietnan or in Vietnamese-American households in the US. Most have an undercurrent of creepiness to them due to a vaguely supernatural or paranormal element, usually due to creatures from myth and folk lore.  They're about family -- and the mysteries in families -- or one's identity.  They're about the power and danger of stories and questions.  They're flat out awesome.

I don't know if I can pick a favorite from the collection, as I adored each one as soon as I finished.  Kupersmith quickly evokes sense of place and characters in a few sentences, but nothing ever felt rushed or quick.  There's both mood and plot in every piece.
Our muddy patch of the world was already shadowy and blood-soaked and spirit-friendly long before the Americans got here. (p56)
I inhaled this volume in a night.  Apparently Kupersmith is writing a novel, and I cannot wait for it.  Given this taste of her style of writing, her novel is going to be incredible.

Highly, swoon-i-ly recommended.  Those who aren't wild about short stories should give these a try -- each story has a satisfying arc and a fabulous ending.  Short story fanatics will obviously want to get this collection.  Anyone who wants an armchair escape and a brush with something ghostly and otherworldly, this is your book.

*** *** ***


I'm thrilled to offer a copy of The Frangipani Hotel to one lucky reader! To enter, fill out this brief form. Open to US readers only, ends 4/25.


  1. It's been a while since I sunk my teeth into a good short story collection. I just finished The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, and I have a hunch I'd enjoy this one!

    1. I haven't read that one, but some of the slightly magical-ish-ness in this reminded me of Bender's short stories. Hope you love if you get it!

  2. Excellent review, I am adding this to my wishlist immediately!

  3. I really liked this one, too. So atmospheric! And I'm easily creeped out, so this one had me on edge while reading it.

    1. I'm creeped out easily, too, so this one constantly gave me the wibblies. It was delightful!

  4. Replies
    1. Isn't it ever? And if you blow up the cover, there's some fabulous texture/fading on the font that had me esp swoony!

  5. You read it in one night? It must be terrific!

    1. It was so fantastic, and I didn't want to stop 'being' in Kupersmith's world.

  6. I don't read short stories all that often, but I'm starting to see this book popping up and it looks really good. After your review, I'm going to have to read it!

    1. Susan, I wasn't always a big short story fan -- I felt like they didn't have a complete arc for me -- but this is a fabulous collection where each story feels complete and finished. V satisfying!

  7. I adored this collection! I cannot wait to read Kupersmith's novel and anything else she writes

  8. Thanks for the giveaway! It sounds amazing! Wonderful review.

  9. Sounds like something I would adore. I love Daphne du Maurier and Shirley Jackson who both wrote slightly creepy short stories. I have a collection of stories by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya, but haven't read them yet.

  10. I had to put this on my list as I love the idea of the mythical along with short stories. Your reference to Bender pretty much sealed it.

  11. I love good short story collections and this sounds like one I should pick up. I visited Vietnam a few years ago and was captivated by the people there and their stories.

  12. Thanks for being a part of the tour! I'm featuring your review on TLC's Facebook page today.


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