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Last Summer at the Golden Hotel by Elyssa Friedland
Contemporary fiction

Last Summer at the Golden Hotel

by Elyssa Friedland

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Quick take

Three generations + two families + one dilapidated Catskills resort = a whole lot of drama.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_MultipleNarrators

    Multiple viewpoints

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_LightRead

    Light read

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_FamilyDrama

    Family drama

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Quirky



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.

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Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of Last Summer at the Golden Hotel.
Last Summer at the Golden Hotel


Windsor, New York, 1981
As was tradition, Louise Goldman took the stage after the appetizer course was served at the final banquet dinner of the summer at the Golden Hotel. Her dress, beaded, formfitting, and floor-?­length—always a gown for the last night—dazzled as she mounted the steps and walked slowly toward the podium. The crowd of four hundred looked at her from their round tables, upon which white-?­jacketed waiters were setting down heaping portions of steaming brisket, dimpled mashed potatoes, and braised carrots. Goblets of thick, glistening gravy were placed alongside the meat in silver vessels, and waiters who dripped on the white cloths would escape rebuke that night, but only because it was the last night of the summer, and tips were already sealed into tidy envelopes. Such was the joy of closing out a successful season at the Golden Hotel that even Marty, the captain of the dining room, who kept watch over his “boys” like a general in a foxhole, would let things slide. How could anyone not feel at ease in the warm, wood-?­paneled dining room of the Golden Hotel, which played summer palace to so many returning guests year after year? The place was steeped in tradition and memories, each room a waffle of nooks and crannies that meant something different, but of equal sentimental value, to everyone who paid a visit.

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Why I love it

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.

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Member ratings (6,750)

  • Allison V.

    Kennesaw, GA

    Dirty Dancing come alive but in book form! Always love a narrative told from multiple character viewpoints. Prompted me to buy all Friedland’s other books as well as others set in the “Borscht Belt”.

  • Ganna M.

    Perkasie, PA

    Loved the book and the setting! Nostalgia with a great story with thought out characters. ( I was glad there was a family tree that I could refer to, it helped to keep straight)An enjoyable story ❤️.

  • Angie J.

    Deer Park, WA

    Even though the rumor that Dirty Dancing was based on The Golden was dispelled in the first chapter, it’s hard not to make comparisons. As a fan of said movie, I loved getting the inside scoop! ❤️

  • Rachel R.

    Brooklyn, NY

    My parents met in the Catskills & we went every year for the Jewish High Holidays. It’s also where I feel in love with hospitality & made it my career. The book brought back all the nostalgia and more

  • Cynthia Q.


    The most perfect book to kick off Summer. It’s got everything... nostalgia, romance, suspense, vacation vibes, and Summer fun. I had to know how it ended & the resolution & epilogue are perfection.

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