Thursday, August 14, 2014

Why I Love....Grand Hotels: Guest Post by Alison Atlee, Author of The Typewriter Girl

My family had two guiding principles when it came to vacation travel. First, vacation was no time to rest. If you’d made the effort to leave home and see someplace new, then by golly, you were going to see ALL of it. Conquer it. You want to sleep ’til noon or eight a.m.? You can (theoretically) do that at home.

Secondly, all hotels/motels/concrete teepees look alike with your eyes closed. And really, you can stand anything for one night, right? Since we were out to conquer territory, we rarely stayed in one place for more than a night or two. Reservations? Pooh. Show up at ten p.m., and you can haggle a better rate. TripAdvisor? Nay! If a place seemed too questionable, my sister would do a sniff test before we bought the room.

In short, if you didn’t come home worn out, burned up, and more grateful for your home than when you’d left, how could you tell you’d been anywhere?

And then I saw the Grand Floridian in Walt Disney World. From the monorail, mind you, but even from there, it was the most glamorous, elegant place I’d ever seen in person up to that point, the kind of hotel where Anne Shirley, in her pearls and white gown with puffed sleeves, recited “The Highwayman” in the Anne of Green Gables mini-series. Disneyfied Victorian splendor, yes, but I didn’t care. I just had the feeling that I could walk into that hotel and be transported to the past (which was pretty much the driving desire of my youth).


Researching turn-of-the-century hotels as I created the Swan Park Hotel for The Typewriter Girl was pure pleasure--not only the eye candy of sweeping staircases and gilded foyers, but also the bustling “backstage” of these places. When I came upon the cross-section illustration of the London Savoy, I felt like a girl with a dollhouse, full of stories to play, my imagination sparked by all the possibilities of “upstairs-downstairs.”

I “built” the Swan Park Hotel to include all my favorite elements of grand hotels: The details-obsessed hotel manager accesses a secret staircase from his office. Violin music drifts off the verandah in the evenings. Beneath the ballrooms and palm courts, a sprawling, humming basement of kitchens and laundries and storage rooms makes all that splendid leisure possible.

The Swan Park is posh and elegant, but Betsey Dobson, the main character in The Typewriter Girl, is not. When she first enters the seaside hotel where she has come to work, she feels two things--out of place and full of wonder. Overwhelmed, she tries to find her way out, only to end up in the grand palm court of the hotel:

She halted when she realized the light had changed and found herself in an airy space with ferns and palm trees--entire trees, indoors! On the furniture, on the islands of carpet atop the parquet, on Betsey’s own sleeve and glove as she started to touch her forehead, dapples of light glowed blue and turquoise, and she could only look up... The source was a dome of colored glass....

Betsey allowed herself to stare, to wonder at the imagination behind it, one unfettered by practicality or moderation.


 Betsey could do with a little less practicality at this point in the story--she is someone who has put limits on her dreams and imagination. Here in the grand hotel, she gets an early lesson in the glorious results of ignoring those limits.

See the places that inspired The Typewriter Girl on Pinterest; connect with Alison on Facebook or Twitter: All the links are at her website,
Thank you Alison Atlee for your wonderful guest post! As a native Floridian I have long admired The Grand Floridian hotel and can see how that could spark thoughts of transportation to another time!
Readers, don't forget to enter the giveaway (information and link below). Good luck!!!

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 About the Author

03_Alison Atlee
Alison Atlee spent her childhood re-enacting Little Women and trying to fashion nineteenth century wardrobes for her Barbie dolls. Happily, these activities turned out to be good preparation for writing historical novels. She now lives in Kentucky.
For more information please visit Alison Atlee’s website. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Goodreads and Pinterest.


The Typewriter Girl Swag Giveaway


One copy of The Typewriter Girl (Audio Book or Print)
Set of earbuds in a cute typewriter print pouch
A Typewriter Girl Happily-Ever-After t-shirt (features last lines from famous novels)
A vintage style postcard “from” Idensea, the setting of The Typewriter Girl
A “dream wildly” ribbon bookmark with typewriter key charms

To enter, please complete the Rafflecopter giveaway HERE. Giveaway is open to residents in the US, Canada, and the UK.

Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on August 29th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

Winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter on August 30th and notified via email.

Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.




  1. I am just the reverse where hotels are concerned. I'd like them to be swanky, luxurious with everything that I cannot get at home!

    1. I'm with you, Mystica! I love fancy hotels (although those aren't always the ones we end up staying at :) ) and The Grand Floridian is one I am itching to get the chance to stay at at some point!

  2. When I go on vacation, I just want to relax. Sleep in, read, and of course a NICE place to park myself. So the Grand Hotel idea works for me!