#Book Tour #Book Review – Hotel Portofino; J.P. O’Connell

Book review stop! Today I’m delighted to be the host for Hotel Portofino, a historical novel written by J.P. O’Connell.

First thing first, let me thank Anne and the publisher, Blackstone Publisher, for providing me with an e-copy of this book. Much obliged *hat tip* 


Hotel Portofino has been open for only a few weeks, but already the problems are mounting for its owner Bella Ainsworth. Her high-class guests are demanding and hard to please. And she’s being targeted by a scheming and corrupt local politician, who threatens to drag her into the red-hot cauldron of Mussolini’s Italy. 

To make matters worse, her marriage is in trouble, and her children are still struggling to recover from the repercussions of the Great War. All eyes are on the arrival of a potential love match for her son Lucian, but events don’t go to plan, which will have far reaching consequences for the whole family. 

Set in the breathtakingly beautiful Italian Riviera, Hotel Portofino is a story of personal awakening at a time of global upheaval and of the liberating influence of Italy’s enchanting culture, climate, and cuisine on British “innocents abroad,” perfect for fans of Downton Abbey and The Crown.

426 pages
Publication date: 18/01/22
Purchase links



Cover: Pretty and delicate!

I’ll never understand people’s fascination with Italy. Pretty sure I’m biased because hello, I live here and so I’m able to see the trash hidden under the bling and the shiny, but—meh? To be fair tho, I guess it happens to everyone who lives in a certain country whenever they see folks falling over themselves about it.

My point is, while I have a very [redacted] opinion of Italy, I’m objective enough to say that it has some allure. Plus, I’m curious to see how others interpret it.

J.P. O’Connell does a pleasant job in that department. The descriptions and the mannerisms are accurate and historically on-point. There isn’t even any mistake in the sentences spoken in Italian, which is worthy of a full star in itself: 99% of the time the exact opposite happens, and that’s something that makes me want to claw my eyes out. You don’t know the language, you hire a native speaker to do the heavy lifting for you, which is something that def happened here. Thank you.

The story is interesting, even if it drags a little in places; Hotel Portofino stops at 426 pages (Kindle refero), and maybe it would have benefited from a bit more of tightening. The POV shifts between the characters, having O’Connell opt for a third omniscient. As everybody and their mom know, this is a choice that causes me some serious eye-twitch. The fact that it’s dialogue-driven tempers it a bit tho. 

Hotel Portofino’s best feature is the MC. Bella’s arc is intriguing and shows some serious character growth. The very ending, her resolve made me proud, I’m not going to lie.

Despite the cast of characters being rather big, it’s well-developed and everyone has a clear voice. Lucien and Constance are the ones who stand out the most, but I have to say that I didn’t have any issue in keeping track of the minor characters.

4 stars on GR.


J.P. O’Connell is a writer and editor who lives in South London. He was previously Books Editor for Time Out magazine, and has written for a variety of newspapers including The Guardian, The Times and the Daily Telegraph.

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