Not that I want to run a B&B ... I don't... but when I saw that this author was a respected author-turned-B&B owner, I was intrigued. The sample alone gives you an example of the reason Hutchinson has published so many books & encouraged me to buy this one, though it's nonfiction and not her usual Romance genre. The fine story-telling present in her Romances is even more evident here.
The cast of characters includes eccentric neighbors, potential lovers, devoted friends, unusual guests, and the delightfully hard-working but engagingly self-deprecating narrator/author herself. Interwoven with intimate details of the author's life as divorcee, mother, professional writer, and fledgling business-woman, HOW NOT TO RUN A B&B is a wonderfully written, humorous adventure into the universal human condition, hosted by the keen-witted yet always compassionate Hutchinson. From the lonely-yet-loveable elderly neighbor who roams the B&B's yard in the middle of the night searching for his cat (who thinks the elaborately landscaped backyard of the B&B is HIS yard) and terrorizing the sleeping guests by screaming for his cat, to the young woman who teaches a Sultan's children in some small kingdom and comes to stay at the B&B after "finding the man she wants to marry" on the Internet, the crowd at the author's place is funny, sad, charming, irritating, stingy, generous, selfish, loving and devoted.
In short, the pilgrims and neighbors who make the trek to this B&B and who, meanwhile, relate their stories, are as varied, humorous, and poignant as Chaucer's pilgrims in THE CANTERBURY TALES: each pilgrim and his story at the B&B is interwoven with the author's literate, wry observations on human nature as well as with the author's own trials, tribulations, and triumphs as she attempts to run a successful business, feed her guests' bodies and spirits, continue her own writing career, and maintain her sense of humor about life - all while figuring out new & delicious menu items for the guests' breakfasts after she mistakenly, as a joke, adds "surprise me" to the daily breakfast menu and everyone selects it.
Entertainingly written, compassionately observed, witty, literate, charming, and memorable. Filled with business sense, spiritual wisdom about the human condition, engaging stories, and delicious recipes, this book is a wonderful addition to memoirs, cookbooks, short story collections, and business how-to's (or how-not-to's) alike. It reminded me of the wonderful novel LIKE WATER FOR CHOCOLATE, but without the fantasy element, always remaining firmly grounded in the poignant, gritty, loving reality of life. This book feeds the intellect, soul (& stomach if you make the delicious breakfast meals whose recipes the author so generously provided) and makes you long to go with sundry other folks on a pilgrimage to Bobby Hutchinson's B&B.