Sunday, September 14, 2014

Ray's Reviews: Hotelman by T. Scott Brown

“Hotelman” by T. Scott Brown (Arbutus Press, $18.95) is an entertaining and unusual book that explores the beginnings and career of a young man who had to overcome a wide variety of challenges to become successful.

His father (identified as Dad) owned the Colonial Inn in Harbor Springs MI, the summer resort area’s only hotel, but wanted his son to become a lawyer. Brown, after graduating from University of Michigan with two
business degrees, got a law degree from Notre Dame.

He was hired by a prestigious Chicago law firm and passed the bar exam. He was unhappy with his job, which primarily involved tedious research.

Brown got a call from his father telling him that Dario, the hotel’s long-time chef had died; his father was going to sell the hotel to a developer.

The historic building, which was built in the 1890’s, was going to be torn down and replaced by condominiums. Brown, who had grown up and worked in the hotel, couldn’t believe it – he quit his job and went home to try to talk his father out of selling it.

He was successful, taking over Dario’s job, but his family relationships were strained. Headstrong Dad still clung to many old-fashioned ideas and was reluctant to change.

Brown was learning the business inside out, continuing as chef; eventually he got into real estate in an unusual way.

While this is a coming-of-age story, it doesn’t focus on the growth of a child, instead examining a wide assortment of relationships that changed an upstart son into an entrepreneur. Brown follows the advice of Mrs. Baldwin, a long-time customer who required a lot of attention.

He has to deal with unscrupulous developers and dissenting wealthy townspeople.

Brown was always trying to prove himself to his highly independent father, who was frustrated because he’d been talked out of selling the hotel.

The paperback memoir examines some of Brown's friendships and personal romantic relationships as well as
pitfalls and problems he faced with different projects. 

The well designed paperback includes a tasty recipe for Duckling al’a Orange and a pair of photographs.

It’s great fun, providing a unique and compassionate look at uncommon facets of Michigan history in an exceptionally scenic resort area.

 Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing's Curious Book Shop,
has reviewed Michigan books and crime novels regularly since 1987.

Find this book and other great titles
at the Curious Book Shop, an independent 
book shop in East Lansing, founded in 1969.

Curious Book Shop
307 East Grand River Avenue
East Lansing, Michigan

This review was originally published by the Lansing State Journal on September 14, 2014.

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