Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Checking in with Elyssa Friedland...plus a book giveaway

Photo by Brian Marcus
We're pleased to welcome Elyssa Friedland back to CLC today, to celebrate the publication of Last Summer at the Golden Hotel. Two years ago, Elyssa took us on a cruise with The Floating Feldmans. Now she's taking us to the Catskills with her latest novel. She's here to share a fun and entertaining background story and thanks to Get Red PR, we have one copy to give away!

The author of four novels, Elyssa Friedland attended Yale University, where she currently teaches creative  writing, and is a graduate of Columbia Law School. Her work has been published in The  Washington Post, McSweeney’s, POPSUGAR, RealSimple.com, Bustle, Modern Bride, New  York magazine, Columbia Journalism Review, CBS MarketWatch.com, Yale Alumni Magazine, and Your Prom. Her previous novels have been praised by People, “SkimmReads,”  Cosmopolitan, Bustle, Good Housekeeping, National Geographic, Woman’s Day, Woman’s  World, Kirkus, Publisher’s Weekly, Library Journal, Booklist, and more.

Visit Elyssa online:

A family reunion for the ages when two clans convene for the summer at their beloved getaway in the Catskills—perfect for fans of Dirty Dancing and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel—from the acclaimed author of The Floating Feldmans.

In its heyday, The Golden Hotel was the crown jewel of the hotter-than-hot Catskills vacation scene. For more than sixty years, the Goldman and Weingold families – best friends and business partners – have presided over this glamorous resort which served as a second home for well-heeled guests and celebrities. But the Catskills are not what they used to be – and neither is the relationship between the Goldmans and the Weingolds. As the facilities and management begin to fall apart, a tempting offer to sell forces the two families together again to make a heart-wrenching decision. Can they save their beloved Golden or is it too late?

Long-buried secrets emerge, new dramas and financial scandal erupt, and everyone from the traditional grandparents to the millennial grandchildren wants a say in the hotel’s future. Business and pleasure clash in this fast-paced, hilarious, nostalgia-filled story, where the hotel owners rediscover the magic of a bygone era of nonstop fun even as they grapple with what may be their last resort. (Courtesy of Amazon.)

“Chock full of charm and wit, Elyssa Friedland’s Last Summer at the Golden Hotel is the  only family drama you need this year! Set in a ramshackle Catskills hotel and featuring a  vibrant cast of characters, it’s a laugh out loud funny novel with a heart of gold.” 
—Karma Brown, bestselling author of Recipe for a Perfect Wife 

“You will laugh out loud at the antics of the delightfully dysfunctional Goldman and  Weingold families as they fight, share secrets, and fall in love in the once-prosperous  Catskills hotel that they own. Once again, Friedland brilliantly wields her rapier wit – if  Dorothy Parker and Joan Rivers wrote a book, this would be it!” 
—Fiona Davis, New York Times bestselling author of The Lions of Fifth Avenue 

“Prepare to laugh. Take a trip to the Catskills with Last Summer at the Golden Hotel and  bask in the hilarity and chaos that make Elyssa Friedland the queen of the family drama.”  
—Jane L. Rosen, author of Eliza Starts a Rumor 

Research on the Reformer 
By Elyssa Friedland

I’ve been a devoted Pilates fan for the past ten years, holding onto a precious Thursday at ten am session for dear life. As a writer, I spend a lot of time sitting on my a**, which leads to a creaky and stiff lower back. Stretching and strengthening my limbs on the Pilates equipment, which eerily resembles medieval torture devices, has saved me from walking with a stoop and needing to unfold my back like origami when I climb out of bed. 

In the pre-Covid world, every week when I met with my trainer at her small studio on the Upper East Side, there was an elderly lady with the same session time as me. She would arrive escorted by the same younger woman every time, who would sometimes join in on the sessions or otherwise wait out the hour on the side. 

I’m not sure exactly why, but I found myself drawn to this older woman who shared my time slot. She always wore her hair arranged in a short bob with neat bangs, trailed in with a heavy scent of perfume, and wore track suits that made me want to hug her and watch a Golden Girls marathon together. One time I showed up for my training session and she wasn’t there. I found myself nervous. Had something happened? But this was also my opportunity to find out about her. 

“Everything okay with the older lady who’s usually here?” I asked my trainer, Jen. 

Jen looked thrilled by my question, as if she’d been dying to talk about her all along. 

“Yes! She had a doctor’s appointment. Do you know who she is?”

I flipped on my side, nearly forgetting my feet were suspended in leather loops securing my body to the mat. “No, who?”

“That’s Bunny Grossinger. Of Grossinger’s! It’s this…” 

I cut my trainer off. 

“I know Grossinger’s. I know the Catskills. I’m writing a novel about the Borscht Belt at this very moment.” I couldn’t believe it. For research, I had read several rather dry non-fiction books about the region and watched Dirty Dancing and A Walk on the Moon half a dozen times each. To think I had the living embodiment of the Catskills next to me every week and I didn’t know it.

“Do you think she’d be willing to talk to me?” I asked. It turned out she was. Bunny stopped being able to come into the studio for sessions shortly after I found out who she was, but she continued her Pilates in home. I visited her there, where she welcomed me with a hug and more stories about the Catskills than I could have ever hoped her. Bunny is the daughter-in-law of the famous Jennie Grossinger, who was the public face and the chief operator of the once-reigning (but now-defunct) resort in the Catskills. Jennie hosted all manner of celebrities and politicians and athletes at the hotel, and Bunny was more than happy to share stories with me. 

It turned out that the young woman who brought her to Pilates was one of her grandchildren. On one of my visits, I befriended her grandson Brandon, who runs in charity named Bunny’s Flowers in her honor. I had never been around a woman as beloved as Mrs. Grossinger. Her phone rang off the hook each time we were together – at least three times the volume of texts I was receiving. It was always a friend or another grandchild calling to check on her. She exhibited warmth and love to everyone who called, echoing the spirit of the hotel whose name she bears. I could see why people returned to Grossinger’s year after year. Like being with Bunny, the hotel made people feel at home. Bunny’s charm, kindness and warmth came to represent the Catskills to me, and I tried to put as much of that spirit into my novel. 

I owe a lot to Bunny Grossinger. Her real-life experience of spending every summer at the hotel, with her behind-the-scenes look at management and intimate knowledge of the staff and guests, made my novel richer and truer. I’ve dropped off a signed copy of my book at her apartment. Hopefully she will have time to read it in between phone calls from her fans. In the meantime, I will think of her every time I perform a teaser. Those in the Pilates-world know what that is. It’s a difficult move, but if Bunny Grossinger – nearly sixty years my senior – can get herself to work out, I can too. 

Please join me “in the Catskills” today with Last Summer at the Golden Hotel. And please toast Bunny with a glass of Manischewitz while you read. 

Thanks to Elyssa for sharing this post with us and to Get Red PR for sharing her book with our readers.

How to win: Use Rafflecopter to enter the giveaway. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. If you have trouble using Rafflecopter on our blog, enter the giveaway here.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway ends May 23rd at midnight EST.


Jane said...

Can't wait to read this book. Her first book The Floating Feldmans was hilarious and I recommend that everyone read it.

Toni Laliberte said...

The last time I stayed at a hotel, was in 2016, when I went to West Virginia for vacation. Thanks for the chance!

Padmini Rao said...

The last time I stayed in a hotel was November 2019, before the pandemic.

Jess said...

I actually stayed at a hotel last weekend - we were supposed to stay at our new cottage(!!) but due to a convergence of misunderstandings it wasn't inhabitable yet.

traveler said...

I stayed at a hotel 5 years ago when we were on vacation during the summer.

Anonymous said...

I've heard so much about this book and the cover looks awesome. I would love to read this. Thank you for the chance.

Nina said...

It's definitely been a few years since I haven't been able to travel!

Mary C said...

Last stay in a hotel was December 2019.

Rita Wray said...

The last time I stayed in a hotel was March 2020 in Las Vegas, NV.

susieqlaw said...

October 2019. I stayed at Canaan Valley Resort in WV.

diannekc said...

The last time I stayed in a hotel was October 2019. The last time I went on vacation.

Krista Breault said...

The last time I stayed at a hotel was 2016. I can't wait for covid to pass so I can go again but in the meantime I'd love to go to one vicariously through this book!

Mary Patricia Bird said...

We returned from Mexico right before the world shut down at the beginning of March 2020. We stayed at an amazing resort with fantastic food (and a lousy beach LOL). Can't wait to get back to the tropics.

jtmswim said...

Thanks for the giveaway chance. Stay safe and healthy. Last time I stayed in a hotel was May 2019.

Mary Preston said...

It's been decades. I tend to stay with family.

bn100 said...

couple years

Jeanna said...

I don't remember the last time I stayed at a resort/hotel. Thinking it was the summer of 2018 as we drove from Florida to New York.

Nancy said...

It has been about3 or 4 years since we have stayed at a resort or a hotel.

allibrary (at) aol (dot) com

Bonnie K. said...

The last time we stayed at a nice hotel was when we celebrated Christmas in New York with our two children. Gosh, was that about 15 years ago? Oh wait, my husband and I did stay at a cool hotel in Carmel, just the two of us, about 4-5 years ago. With my limited mobility we haven't traveled much. We try to do day trips mostly.

Summer said...

It's been several years.

Bernice Kennedy said...

I am looking forward to visiting this hotel by reading this book. What a reunion it will be. Thanks for the chance!

KelleyB said...

Summer of 2019.