Hotel Laguna: A Novel (Hardcover)
In 1942, Hazel Francis left Wichita, Kansas for California, determined to do her part for the war effort. At Douglas Aircraft, she became one of many “Rosie the Riveters,” helping construct bombers for the U. S. military. But now the war is over, men have returned to their factory jobs, and women like Hazel have been dismissed, expected to return home to become wives and mothers.
Unwilling to be forced into a traditional woman’s role in the Midwest, Hazel remains on the west coast, and finds herself in the bohemian town of Laguna Beach. Desperate for work, she accepts a job as an assistant to famous artist Hanson Radcliff. Beloved by the locals for his contributions to the art scene and respected by the critics, Radcliff lives under the shadow of a decades old scandal that haunts him.
Working hard to stay on her cantankerous employer’s good side, Hazel becomes a valued member of the community. She never expected to fall in love with the rhythms of life in Laguna, nor did she expect to find a kindred spirit in Jimmy, the hotel bartender whose friendship promises something more. But Hazel still wants to work with airplanes—maybe even learn to fly one someday. Torn between pursuing her dream and the dream life she has been granted, she is unsure if giving herself over to Laguna is what her heart truly wants.
About the Author
Born in England, Nicola Harrison moved to CA where she received a BA in Literature at UCLA before moving to NYC and earning an MFA in creative writing at Stony Brook. She is a member of The Writers Room, has short stories published in The Southampton Review and Glimmer Train and articles in Los Angeles Magazine and Orange Coast Magazine. She was the fashion and style staff writer for Forbes, had a weekly column at Lucky Magazine and is the founder of a personal styling business, Harrison Style.
"One to savor." -Publishers Weekly
"Nicola Harrison captures all the turmoil of the post war world, of the women who found factory work until the men came home-- and then found themselves with no place to go, except back home. But what about the women who don't have a home to go back to? In Hotel Laguna, a destitute and desperate young woman finds an unexpected home and sense of purpose when she takes a job with an aging artist, never guessing that finding his secrets will also help her find herself. You'll feel like you've dipped your toes in the sand of Laguna Beach. The perfect book to slip into your beach bag." -Lauren Willig, New York Times bestselling author
"Harrison perfectly captures the breezy, sun-soaked landscape of Southern California in her latest, and approaches WWII fiction in an utterly unique way: from the point of view of a woman who found her bliss building planes while the men were off fighting, and then must reconfigure her identity when the jobs disappear. With its eccentric cast of characters and a beautifully layered plot, this is one unforgettable read." -Fiona Davis, New York Times bestselling author of The Magnolia Palace
"Hotel Laguna brings the dramatic 1940s to life with an unforgettable heroine navigating love, duty, and loss while living in a man’s world. This historical novel poses a timeless question: how to live life without regret. Nicola Harrison has a knack for portraying strong women in bygone eras. A pure delight!" –Jamie Brenner, bestselling author of Blush and Gilt
"In Hotel Laguna, Nicola Harrison transports readers from the female-staffed factories of World War II to the sun-splashed beaches of southern California, plunging into one woman's daring journey to demand more for herself. With rich period detail and skillful consideration of a postwar society in flux, Harrison spins a tale of love, identity, and the hidden secrets of the art world. Nicola Harrison has a gift for crafting leading ladies full of heart and moxie, and readers will fall in love with Hazel." - Allison Pataki, New York Times bestselling author of The Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Post
“Rich in history and filled with captivating and memorable characters, Hotel Laguna grabs the reader from the very first page. It’s a story of ambition and secrets, finding love and finding oneself, all set against the alluring opportunities of post-war Southern California and the fascinating spectacle of the Pageant of the Masters.” —Susie Orman Schnall, author of We Came Here to Shine
"Nicola Harrison has done it again with another wonderfully compelling and propulsive read featuring an indomitable, original heroine who struggles to find a sense of purpose and belonging in postwar Southern California. After Hazel is fired from her airplane factory job to make room for the men returning home from war, her professional and personal life is in tatters. Reinventing herself as an artist's model and assistant, she is drawn into the glamorous and exclusive art world of Laguna Beach. Full of lavish settings and complex characters, Hotel Laguna combines Harrison’s trademark passion for historical details with a dash of mystery and romance. Add in a fallen fiancé, an infamous boss, and a notorious lost painting, and readers won’t be able to look away! This book truly has it all!" —Lynda Cohen Loigman, author of The Matchmaker's Gift
"I devoured this tale of a young woman who finds herself in gorgeous Laguna Beach and gets caught up in a community of bohemians. These painters and free thinkers force Hazel to reconsider her conventional ideas about love, art, and her own self worth. Nicola Harrison has once again captured what it feels like to come of age in a magical place during a pivotal historical moment. I couldn't put it down." —Christina Clancy, author of Shoulder Season
“Rich in history and filled with captivating and memorable characters, Hotel Laguna grabs the reader from the very first page.” —Susie Orman Schnall, author of We Came Here to Shine
"Make your reservations now and book it at Hotel Laguna – the fabulous new historical fiction novel by Nicola Harrison. Known for her dreamy and period-rich prose, Harrison brings us Hazel, a 19-year-old young woman going it alone in the ‘40s a time of war — where women were needed to do “men’s work” and rise to the call of duty. Hazel lands an important job in an airplane factory – only to be let go after the boys return from war to reclaim their positions. A young woman ahead of her time, Hazel sets off for the artsy shores of Laguna Beach, California, where she assists a prominent artist with a risqué past – who teaches Hazel to live a life free of regrets and to embrace her freedom. Hotel Laguna is a passionate page-turner filled with love, loss, art, and legacy. Harrison gifts the reader with complex characters and a feisty protagonist, who is not only determined to make her own mark, but also to bring truth to scandal, and life to art. Historical fiction lovers, this one's for you." –Lisa Barr, New York Times bestselling author of Woman on Fire
"A quintessential coming-of-age tale, teeming with rich sensory detail and starring a loveable main character. Hazel Francis will capture your heart from the very first page. She has spunk and grit, and every woman can relate to some part of her journey—regret, desire, uncertainty. Hotel Laguna is a reminder that home is not always a place, but a state of contentment. A charming, sensual tale—Harrison's readers will devour this one." —Sarah Penner, New York Times bestselling author of The Lost Apothecary