Ernst, Dee. Lucy Checks In. St. Martin’s Griffin, 2022. ISBN 978-1250844583 288 pp. $15.99
Disgraced when her long-time romantic partner embezzles a ton of money and disappears with her (and a lot of investors and co-workers) retirement savings, Lucy accepts a job in Rennes to reinvent an eighteenth-century family-owned boutique hotel into one with the notoriety of the Fielding Hotel in NYC. In the process, she rebuilds her confidence and whole life, makes new friends, and falls in love again. But first, she shows up expecting to simply manage a property, and ends up painting ceilings and building a website.
The characters are so wonderful in Lucy Checks In. There is brave Lucy herself; Claudine, who owns the building and barely speaks English; Bing, a children’s book illustrator and artist who shares a child with Claudine; and an entire cast of misfits who help to run the place: Karl the Jewish gardener, the grumpy chauffeur; the talented chef Starvos. Sweet Marie Claude will be running the front desk–but she and her possessive husband are dreading the return of her former lover, Phillipe (Claudine and Bing’s son).
This was one of those novels that just flowed without an extraneous or misplaced word or thought. While primarily about Lucy, the mystery of where her man and money went is a subplot that is interwoven (and satisfactorily resolved). Another subplot is Lucy’s family back in the States: she maintains close contact with her godchildren, her twin nieces, whose father is drinking again as he struggles to cope with the loss of his wife and their mother.
It was so refreshing to read about a woman of a certain age who gets everything she wants and deserves after starting over. The title didn’t do much for me, and the cover is a bit misleading, showing a trim woman in blue jeans and a striped shirt and long brown hair that is more American than middle-aged, international chic, graying, slightly over fighting weight persona that Lucy is portrayed as in the novel.
The details of the hospitality industry, and the process of starting a renovation from plaster and paint to linens was fascinating. The European setting left me hungry for travel (and a nice glass of French wine).
I received an advance reader’s review copy of #LucyChecksIn from #NetGalley.
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