Three generations + two families + one dilapidated Catskills resort = a whole lot of drama.
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Why I love it
Amanda Eyre Ward
Author, The Jetsetters
If I date myself by admitting that I watched my Dirty Dancing VHS tape eight hundred times and imagined Patrick Swayze’s cheek pressed to mine at a summer resort in the Catskills, so be it. I wanted to shape-shift and become the member of a close-knit Jewish family who summered at a sprawling property filled with leafy trees, juicy brisket, and potential love interests. I wanted to have the time of my life. So I was thrilled to open Last Summer at the Golden Hotel and return to my 80s fantasies.
This delicious story begins in 1981, as Louise Goldman, a dazzling matriarch in a tight, beaded gown, approaches the microphone at the front of a packed banquet hall to close out another successful summer at the hotel she and her husband co-own. Louise could never, on this triumphant evening, imagine that by 2019 (and page nine of the novel) the local paper in upstate New York will announce “The Golden Hotel May Be Shutting its Doors For Good.” What follows is a novel as wide-ranging as the dated Catskills resorts themselves, tracing the emotions of older and younger generations as they convene to decide the fate of the family property.
The trailer for Dirty Dancing (yes, I just watched it a few times) proclaims: “What they learn from each other feels too good to be wrong.” The same can be said of Friedland’s novel, a welcome hug of a book after such a crazy year.
In its heyday, The Golden Hotel was the crown jewel of the hotter-than-hot Catskills vacation scene. For more than sixty years, the Goldman and Weingold families—best friends and business partners—have presided over this glamorous resort which served as a second home for well-heeled guests and celebrities. But the Catskills are not what they used to be—and neither is the relationship between the Goldmans and the Weingolds. As the facilities and management begin to fall apart, a tempting offer to sell forces the two families together again to make a heart-wrenching decision. Can they save their beloved Golden or is it too late?
Long-buried secrets emerge, new dramas and financial scandal erupt, and everyone from the traditional grandparents to the millennial grandchildren wants a say in the hotel's future. Business and pleasure clash in this fast-paced, hilarious, nostalgia-filled story, where the hotel owners rediscover the magic of a bygone era of nonstop fun even as they grapple with what may be their last resort.