Now, I have been told (by many people) that Maureen Johnson is a fabulous author and threatened (by one person in particular) with heavy exposure to Swedish techno if I did not read at least one of her books. Swedish techno is actually fun to listen to… in small doses. More than that might melt your brain. Seeing as I like my brain in its non-puddinglike state, I snagged the nearest one, which happened to be (as you can probably guess from the title of this post) Suite Scarlett.
Scarlett Martin’s family owns and lives in a hotel. The Hopewell has fallen on hard times and while it may not have a plethora of Egyptian cotton towels or toilets that function 100% of the time, it has what is called “the personal touch”. Meaning, that the Martins can no longer afford to hire staff and the only people around who will work for free are Scarlett and her siblings. Following family tradition, Scarlett is given the key to the Empire Suite and the responsibility of its upkeep. Due to the family’s financial troubles, Scarlett has to drop her plans of getting a summer job in favor of working at the hotel… but her plans are saved in an entirely unexpected way by Mrs. Amberson, a former actress turned writer/director/agent, who moves into the Empire Suite and offers Scarlett the chance to be her assistant. As this position pays $500 a week, she snaps up the opportunity and quickly gets to work.
This mainly consists of fetching exotic delicacies and helping Mrs. Amberson write her novel…. uuuntil Scarlett’s brother Spencer gets involved in a local “Broadway” production. The cast is evicted from the parking garage where they’ve been practicing and where do they choose to stage the rehearsals? The basement of the Hopewell, of course. Things quickly pick up and between Mrs. Amberson’s meddling in the production of the play, and Scarlett’s maybe-boyfriend-maybe-not (who also happens to be Spencer’s friend and in the cast of the play) events around the hotel quickly get tangled. And once everything starts to fall down around their ears, Scarlett has to take charge and show that she’s good for more than delivering organic Japanese plums.
I found Suite Scarlett to be a fun and funny book. It was cute and I loved the interaction between the family members. They seemed very real and atypical and interesting. Very different than what I had thought a book about a hotel would be like… much more entertaining. And if you happened to be looking for a book to take to the beach I’d recommend this one. Not that I read it at the beach, but it seems like that’d be a good place to do so. 6 out of 7 … wailing mermaids?… that sounds good, let’s go with that.