Publisher's Summary

It is the summer of 1940, and Lisbon, Portugal, is the only neutral port left in Europe - a city filled with spies, crowned heads, and refugees of every nationality, tipping back absinthe to while away the time until their escape. Awaiting safe passage to New York on the SS Manhattan, two couples meet: Pete and Julia Winters, expatriate Americans fleeing their sedate life in Paris; and Edward and Iris Freleng, sophisticated, independently wealthy, bohemian, and beset by the social and sexual anxieties of their class. As Portugal’s neutrality, and the world’s future, hang in the balance, the hidden threads in the lives of these four characters - Julia’s status as a Jew, Pete and Edward’s improbable affair, Iris’s increasingly desperate efforts to save her tenuous marriage - begin to come loose. This journey will change their lives irrevocably, as Europe sinks into war.
Gorgeously written, sexually and politically charged, David Leavitt’s long-awaited new novel is an extraordinary work.
©2013 David Leavitt (P)2013 Audible, Inc.
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
2 out of 5 stars
By David on 26-01-2014

A Disappointment

The novel is set in a milieu that is ripe for deep consideration of issues of war, home, bigotry, fascism and faith, namely, Lisbon in the late 1930s, a city filled with refugees fleeing Europe and trying to find new countries to accept them. But the novel focuses instead on four shallow, silly people who act like spoiled teenagers out of Gossip Girls. The narrator is a car salesman; the other couple write mystery novels under a pseudonym. The characters are disengaged from the war and nearly oblivious to the tragedies around them, both in Lisbon and in Europe. No doubt there were plenty of dull, disengaged people trying to leave Europe at that time, but it's not something worth reading about. The audiobook narrator had a good sense of voice for the characters.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

3 out of 5 stars
By Rochelle on 07-11-2015

Far from Leavitt's greatest work

I'm wondering whether this is a different "David Leavitt". It's a bit painful to be honest. The way in which the main characters meet is a slapstick comedy of sorts, but not a good one. Peter's glasses are stepped on accidentally by Edward. As Peter is short sighted this leaves Peter effectively blind. From that point it's embarrassing how often Leavitt has Peter stumble and fall into Edward's manly arms (I think it's three times within this initial meeting). Once was too cliché. Three pressing the point a little too hard. As this is the opening of the book it is difficult to forgive and move on.

The rest of the book has comedic elements with plenty of light comedy characters (in particular Iris's dog), but thankfully nothing as bad as that first piece.

The sexual attraction is never quite convincing. It's more awkward than anything else and it's difficult to find what Pete and Edward see in each other. Ditto the friendship between the two couples - they have very little in common & it's hard to imagine them wanting to spend time in each other's company.

The Lost Language of Cranes and Equal Affections are both significantly superior works by Leavitt - each is absolutely engaging and enjoyable. By comparison The Two Hotel Frankfort's is so flat. It picks up right at the very end, but it's too little, too late.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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