> Zed Book Club / Bonnie Strome on a Second World War novel, Celeste Ng and ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’

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Bonnie Strome on a Second World War novel, Celeste Ng and ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’

The manager of the newly renovated Park Hyatt in Toronto and its famed rooftop bar, The Writers Room, on inviting Margaret Atwood to dinner / BY Shinan Govani / November 9th, 2021


After a four-year restoration, the Park Hyatt Hotel recently reopened at the storied intersection of Avenue Road and Bloor Street in Toronto, across from the Royal Ontario Museum. Few were more pleased to welcome visitors back than the unflappable woman who steered the top-to-bottom transformation, Bonnie Strome.

One of the few female hotel general managers in the industry – a job she’s held for the last eight years – Strome is particularly elated about the reimagining of the Hyatt’s iconic rooftop bar, now dubbed The Writers Room. It only seemed fitting to check in about all things books!

 

Bonnie Strome
The Writers Room still has the same spectacular view and its walls still feature the same photos and caricatures of famous patrons like Margaret Atwood, Farley Mowat and Morley Callahan. Photo: Courtesy of the Park Hyatt

 

What’s the best book you’ve read this year?

I thoroughly enjoyed The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, which was a story about two sisters separated in 1939, during wartime France. The resilience and courage of these two women as they separately fought to survive unbelievable hardship was so moving and powerful.

What book can’t you wait to dive into?

A novel recently released as an Amazon mini-series has piqued my interest and it is called Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. This would be my first time reading this author, and with two teenage daughters at home, the family dynamics should be interesting!

What’s your favourite book of all time?

I wouldn’t be able to select one favourite, but I typically enjoy books that have a relevance to historical events or, the complete opposite, those in a futuristic setting. There is something appealing to me about stepping away from the current day when getting engrossed in a great story.

What book completely changed your perspective?

It was many years ago that I first read The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood and was in naïve disbelief that the rights of women would recede, but when I recently revisited the novel again it was unsettling to see the perspective she had so long ago is not so unimaginable in the world today.

If you could have dinner with any author, living or dead, who would it be?

As the general manager of the Park Hyatt Toronto, I would selfishly love to invite Margaret Atwood to join me in the new rooftop Writers Room cocktail bar. She is one of the Canadian literary icons who inspired its relaunch, as evidenced by the row of Andy Donato caricatures that greet you when you arrive – Atwood is flanked by Mordecai Richler, Northrop Fry, etc.!

 

Bonnie Strome
Photos: Hannah (AP Third Party / Canadian Press); Ng (David Levenson / Getty); Atwood (Leonardo Cendamo / Getty)

 

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