Heartbreak Hotel by Deborah Moggach - review by Pamela Norris

Pamela Norris

Love Shack

Heartbreak Hotel


Chatto & Windus 293pp £14.99 order from our bookshop

Heartbreak Hotel begins with that promising scenario: an unexpected legacy. Russell Buffery, popularly known as Buffy, is seventy and feeling disgruntled. An actor famous for his radio roles as Uncle Buffy and Hammy, his talking hamster, he now lacks a career and even an agent. The once tranquil London neighbourhood where he lives is plagued by property developers and traffic wardens, and the Scotch egg in his local boozer has been replaced by boil-in-the-bag Thai food. When an old friend leaves him her bed-and-breakfast establishment in a small town in rural Wales, Buffy eagerly embraces his new role as ‘Mine host!’ His only problem is how to attract more guests to the charming but rundown Myrtle House, where visitors have to queue for the bathroom and the bedrooms resemble the set of a 1950s farce. 

Buffy, whose three failed marriages and numerous affairs and offspring Deborah Moggach introduced in The Ex-Wives (1993), comes up with the idea of residential courses for the newly separated or divorced. Based on the notion that couples bring complementary abilities to a relationship, classes in ‘Basic Car Maintenance’ and ‘Gardening

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