Loved by a Gentleman by Alizee Kay
This is an impressive debut by an author who has succeeded in creating memorable characters in a lovely readable novel. Focusing on a situation that she evidently knows while working in hospitality, she has produced a book that conveys something of the pride in a job. Alizee Kay has also been ambitious in setting her novel just before and during the 2020 lockdown, and managing to deal with a time that many other fiction writers have avoided. Her central character, Beatrice, is described with great sensitivity and understanding. The setting is lovely, swapping between a great house hotel and Beatrice’s own home. Both are described so well that it is possible to visualise the grand view from the front of the big building and something of the change to a limited setting during lockdown. Kay handles the first whispers of danger in early 2020 very well. I was very pleased to have the opportunity to read and review this special book.
When the book begins, Beatrice acknowledges that she still has strong feelings for Logan, her previous boss. Not that she has seen him for over a year; she is now the boss of her own hotel. She is very successful, winning prizes within the industry. She understands her staff, willing to build them up in terms of confidence, in timely praise and much more. Across the hotel lobby she sees Arian, a young man who seizes her attention. She is more than keen to offer him a job: he is confident, effortlessly polite and keen to impress. He seems the perfect fit for a job at the hotel, always keen to help, they are soon having conversations that extend beyond work, and Beatrice’s best friend notices a difference in her immediately. For all that they become close, the fact remains that he is married, with children. As news of a virus begins to come from China, Beatrice realises that her work, all that which gives her life meaning in many ways, may have to change, and that her reason for seeing Arian may disappear as well.
The style of the writing is extremely careful and readable. Kay raises some valid points about contemporary life through this story. The main one is the loneliness experienced by single people, especially women. This theme has been featured by writers over the last few years, specifically how women work hard and may well be extremely successful at work, but find it difficult to form relationships outside the office or wherever. Adult loneliness has been a problem for some time, but of course was exacerbated by lockdown when many people were confined to their homes, and not even able to work if it could not be completed remotely, like Beatrice. Many people found themselves without purpose or direction, and I think Kay has caught that concept well. This is a worthy debut and shows real promise in terms of its pace, overall composition and thoughtful response to the feelings of contemporary women in these difficult days.