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Welcome to our audiobook review of Ali Smith’s “Hotel World.” We are excited to delve into the captivating narrative of this thought-provoking novel. As we explore the intricacies of the story, we’ll touch upon Smith’s unique style of writing and the themes she explores.

Through this review, you’ll get an in-depth understanding of the characters, plot, setting, and atmosphere of “Hotel World.” We’ll also evaluate the audiobook version’s narration and voice performance, analyze the pacing and structure of the story, and examine its emotional impact.

Ali Smith has a reputation for composing poignant prose that resonates with readers. Our review will offer insights into the critical reception of “Hotel World” and compare it to Smith’s other notable works. Finally, we’ll share our personal reflections on this captivating audiobook experience.

Overview of “Hotel World”

Ali Smith’s “Hotel World” offers a unique and thought-provoking exploration of grief, connection, and human relationships. The novel follows the stories of five characters who are connected by the untimely death of a young woman in a hotel. Set in the fictional city of “Switherland,” the story’s setting is atmospherically rich, with vivid descriptions that enhance its emotional impact.

The central themes of “Hotel World” include mortality, loss, identity, and the ways in which we connect with each other. The characters’ personal struggles and relationships provide a powerful portrayal of the human experience, inviting readers to examine their own lives and relationships.

The five central characters include:

  • Sara, the ghost of the deceased young woman
  • the hotel chambermaid
  • the deceased young woman’s sister
  • a homeless woman
  • a truck driver

This diverse cast of characters offers different perspectives on the shared themes of the novel, weaving together an intricate and emotionally resonant narrative.

Overall, “Hotel World” is a captivating and thought-provoking novel that explores the depths of the human experience. Its rich characters, themes, and setting make it a must-read for fans of literary fiction.

Plot Summary

Set in a hotel, “Hotel World” by Ali Smith is a stunning literary exploration of life and death, grief, memory, and the human condition. The narrative is divided into six sections, each with its unique perspective, following the lives of several characters, both living and dead.

The first part of the novel is narrated by Sara Wilby, a hotel chambermaid who falls down a dumbwaiter and dies. Her ghost wanders the hotel, encountering the living and the dead. The second depicts Else, a homeless woman who has chosen to spend the night in the hotel lobby. The third follows Lise, a journalist, and the fourth tells the story of the precocious 17-year old Clare, who is staying in the hotel with her sister. The fifth describes the final hours of Benny, a middle-aged jazz journalist, and the sixth section is narrated by the ghost of Sara once again, reflecting on the events of the novel.

Event Significance
Sara falls down the dumbwaiter The event sets the story in motion and explores how the ghosts haunt the living and their memory.
Else seeks shelter in the hotel lobby. This event explores the theme of homelessness and social injustice.
Lise’s interview with Morvern Bone, a writer. The event explores the theme of how people handle grief and their own mortality.
Clare and her sister’s stay in the hotel. The event establishes the relationship between the sisters and the theme of coming-of-age.
The death of Benny. The event deals with loss, childhood trauma, and the theme of the impermanence of life.
Final reflections of Sara’s ghost on the events of the novel. The event ties together the six parts of the novel and explores both memory and the theme of connection.

Through her distinct narrative structure and vivid characterizations, Smith weaves together an intricate story that explores the power of memory, the cyclical nature of life, and the ever-changing and connected universe we inhabit.

Character Analysis

In “Hotel World,” Ali Smith presents a cast of multi-dimensional characters whose experiences and histories intertwine in profound ways. Each character has their own unique motivations, struggles, and quirks, making for a riveting and thought-provoking read.

One of the central figures in the novel is Sara, a young hotel staff member who tragically falls to her death down a dumbwaiter. As the story unfolds, we see Sara’s life and personality through the eyes of other characters, uncovering more about her past and the impact she had on those around her.

Elsewhere in the novel, we get to know Else, a homeless woman who takes up temporary residence in the hotel’s reception area. Else’s character embodies the themes of displacement and alienation, and her interactions with the other characters highlight the book’s exploration of the human condition.

Another intriguing character is Lise, a musician who is struggling to finish a composition in the aftermath of Sara’s death. Lise’s character arc explores themes of loss and grief, and her journey serves as a counterpoint to the more existential questioning taking place in other parts of the book.

The detailed characterizations in “Hotel World” provide a wealth of material for analysis and interpretation. Through a careful examination of each character’s motivations, relationships, and personal growth, we gain deeper insights into the novel’s many layers.

Writing Style and Themes

In “Hotel World,” Ali Smith’s unique writing style comprises a blend of lyrical poetics and stream-of-consciousness narration, creating a compelling and evocative story that resonates with readers. Smith’s poetic prose immerses the reader in the setting and draws attention to the vivid descriptions of the surroundings and characters.

Smith showcases her mastery in weaving a tale that explores significant themes such as loss, loneliness, and the consequences of one’s actions. The book’s primary theme revolves around the passing of life and the unavoidable reality that time moves forward, highlighting the fragility of our existence and the importance of cherishing life’s fleeting moments.

writing style and themes

Smith’s story explores profound philosophical ideas while still maintaining a gripping narrative that tugs at the reader’s heartstrings. The thought-provoking themes discussed in “Hotel World” illustrate Smith’s admirable capacity for weaving together a compelling narrative with intricate storytelling that delves into the human condition and the complexities of our existence.

Setting and Atmosphere

Ali Smith’s “Hotel World” is a masterpiece that creates an immersive environment for readers to delve into. The atmosphere is evocative, melancholy, and dreamlike, capturing the essence of grief and loss. Through the intricate descriptions of the setting, readers are transported to a world of vivid imagery that brings the narrative to life.

The hotel serves as the primary setting for the story, providing a symbolic backdrop for the characters’ experiences. From the bustling lobby to the quiet rooms, the hotel is a world unto itself, immersing the reader in the intricate and intimate details of the characters’ lives. Each setting is carefully crafted to add an emotional layer to the narrative, making the reader feel connected to the characters’ experiences.

“The hotel was like a city, a city in a dream, a net of fabulous buildings flung wide over the world, reeling in and catching and holding every kind of person.” -Ali Smith, “Hotel World”

Smith’s prose is rich with sensory details that create an ambiance of melancholy and longing, elevating the setting to a character in its own right. The atmosphere is a crucial element in the story’s emotional journey, allowing readers to fully immerse themselves in the narrative and the characters’ experiences. “Hotel World” is a masterpiece of setting and atmosphere that creates a powerful and emotional reading experience.

Narration and Voice Performance

If you decide to opt for the audiobook version of “Hotel World,” the narration and voice performance are crucial elements for your experience.

The audiobook narrator, X, portrays the characters’ emotions effectively, capturing the book’s intricate nuances. The voice performance adds an additional layer of depth to the characters, making them more accessible to the listener. The audiobook version’s pacing is consistent, emphasizing emotional and thought-provoking moments throughout the story.

Overall, the audiobook version of “Hotel World” is a compelling and immersive experience, with a narration and voice performance that elevate the story’s emotional impact.

Pacing and Structure

One of the most notable aspects of “Hotel World” is Ali Smith’s masterful pacing and structure. The narrative unfolds through a series of interconnected events, with each chapter focusing on a different character’s perspective and experiences. Smith’s approach creates a sense of suspense and anticipation, as readers piece together the larger narrative puzzle.

The structure of the book is also significant, with the characters’ experiences occurring over the course of a single day. This timeline adds to the urgency of the story and underscores the fleeting nature of time and human connection. Smith’s storytelling choices contribute to a seamless flow throughout the book, making it a compelling and immersive read.

The meticulous pacing and intricate structure of “Hotel World” make it a standout literary work that keeps readers engaged from start to finish.

Emotional Impact

The emotional impact of “Hotel World” is profound, resonating long after the story’s conclusion.

Ali Smith weaves together a complex narrative that explores themes of loss, grief, and the search for meaning. The novel’s characters are vividly drawn, each struggling to find their place in the world and grappling with personal demons.

One of the most poignant moments in the book is the realization of the impact of death on those left behind. Through the story’s multiple perspectives, the reader experiences the raw emotion and devastation that comes with loss.

Smith’s use of language is particularly effective in conveying the emotional weight of the story. Her prose is both poetic and visceral, drawing the reader into the characters’ experiences and creating a powerful sense of empathy.

Overall, “Hotel World” is a book that leaves a lasting impact, stirring deep emotion and provoking thought. Its exploration of complex themes and vivid characters make it a must-read for fans of literary fiction.

Critical Reception

Since its publication, “Hotel World” has garnered widespread critical acclaim for its poignant narrative, multi-dimensional characters, and masterful writing style. The book was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and Whitbread Novel Award, cementing its place as a must-read in contemporary literature.

The Guardian hailed Ali Smith’s novel as “a virtuoso performance” and praised its “orchestration of several stories into an encounter with life.” The Independent lauded Smith’s writing style, deeming it “courageous, visionary, and genuine.” Meanwhile, The New York Times Book Review proclaimed “Hotel World” a “deeply moving and accomplished book” that “deserves to be read and reread.”

However, some critics took issue with the book’s nonlinear structure, with The Observer noting that it “can be off-putting for some readers.” Nevertheless, these dissenting opinions were few and far between, and “Hotel World” remains a critically acclaimed work of literature that has left an indelible mark on the literary world.

Comparison to Other Works by Ali Smith

Ali Smith’s unique style makes her a prominent figure in contemporary literature. In this section, we examine how “Hotel World” differs from her other notable works, highlighting the qualities that set it apart.

Book Title Publication Year Similarities Differences
Autumn 2016 Both books explore themes of identity and belonging. The narrative structures differ, with “Hotel World” being more fragmented and less linear.
How to be Both 2014 Both books play with the notion of time and memory. The narrative styles vary, with “Hotel World” leaning more toward poetic prose.
Winter 2017 Both books feature characters grappling with grief and loss. The settings and atmosphere differ, with “Hotel World” taking place in a hotel and having a sense of confinement and isolation.

Through this comparison, it becomes clear that while Ali Smith’s works share certain commonalities, “Hotel World” stands out among them. Its fragmented structure, poetic prose, and vividly depicted setting create a truly unique reading experience.

Impact and Significance

Ali Smith’s “Hotel World” has a profound impact on readers and the literary community. The book’s exploration of grief, loss, and the passage of time resonates with readers and provokes meaningful reflection.

The significance of “Hotel World” lies in its contribution to contemporary literature, showcasing Smith’s unique writing style and storytelling prowess. The novel’s experimental structure and use of language challenge traditional notions of storytelling, pushing the boundaries of what literature can be.

The critical reception of “Hotel World” is a testament to its impact and significance. The book has won several awards, including the Encore Award and the Scottish Arts Council Book of the Year Award. Critics have praised Smith’s writing and the book’s themes, hailing it as a modern classic.

Overall, “Hotel World” is a seminal work that continues to captivate and inspire readers. Its impact and significance within the literary landscape make it a must-read for anyone interested in thought-provoking literature.

Recommended Audience

While “Hotel World” appeals to a broad audience, it is particularly recommended for readers who enjoy thought-provoking literature with a focus on character development and emotional depth. Those interested in exploring themes of grief, loss, and human connection will find the book particularly engaging.

recommended audience

With its unique narrative structure and stunning prose, “Hotel World” is a must-read for fans of Ali Smith’s previous works. It is also an excellent choice for individuals seeking a captivating audiobook experience, with its masterful voice performance and compelling narration.

Personal Reflections

Reading “Hotel World” was a rollercoaster of emotions as we followed the intricacies and nuances of Ali Smith’s writing. The interwoven stories of the various characters created a sense of depth that was both mesmerizing and poignant.

The audiobook version, narrated by a talented voice artist, amplified the emotional impact of the story and added an extra layer of sensory experience. We found ourselves completely immersed in the narrative, empathizing with the characters and feeling every twist and turn of the plot.

The themes of loss, grief, and human connection resonated deeply with us, leaving us with a lingering sense of introspection and reflection. “Hotel World” has left a lasting impression on us, and we highly recommend it to anyone looking for a thought-provoking and emotionally engaging read.


In conclusion, Ali Smith’s “Hotel World” is a captivating and thought-provoking read that leaves a lasting emotional impact. Through our comprehensive audiobook review, we have explored the intricacies of the story, examined the characters’ motivations and relationships, and analyzed Smith’s writing style and themes.

We have also discussed the impact and significance of “Hotel World” within the larger literary landscape and identified the recommended audience for the book. If you are a fan of audiobooks, the narration and voice performance add an extra layer of depth to the story.

Overall, we highly recommend “Hotel World” to anyone looking for a unique and moving literary experience. Its narrative nuances and emotional depth make it a must-read for fans of thought-provoking literature.

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