A gripping book about the reliability of memories and a love that lasts a lifetime
In his new novel Hotel Linda, Arjan Visser evokes the world of an old man who is reflecting upon the course that his life took long ago, when he was rescued from the Nazis but left a lover behind. The Second World War, the diamond trade and a hotel owner play key roles in this subtle story about memory and the passing of time.
Jonah Jacobson is an old man when he flies from Brazil via Munich to the Netherlands, sixty years after sailing in the opposite direction on a ship, on his way to freedom. He has never revisited his homeland, not wanting to look back. Of course he knows that most of his family disappeared in the Holocaust, but the news that the last member of his family, a cousin, has died prompts him to take this journey back to the past.
Slowly, the true circumstances behind Jacobson’s reason for embarking upon his journey after so many years becomes clear. Jacobson has unfinished business. He takes up residence in Hotel Linda, hoping to meet a certain woman. They were once supposed to escape together, but shots were fired and she was wounded – a jealous rival? – and he just kept on going. What happened next is not clear at first and the reader has to put together the pieces of the puzzle.
Jacobson, frail and forgetful, becomes increasingly lost in a forest of confusing memories. What still remains of the city where he once lived, a city where he knows the streets, but not the people? What happened to the woman who shares the name of the hotel where he is staying and to whom he never spoke again? He sent her diamonds from Brazil, but anonymously, so that she never knew who they were from.
Will he ever be able to tell her that he was the one who sent her the precious stones to help her? Or should he, as Marcus Aurelius has taught him, not expect gratitude for his good deeds? Jacobson poses philosophical questions about love and happiness, friendship and betrayal, life and death. Hotel Linda is a gripping, mysterious novel about two people who were driven apart forever.