Skip to main content
Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
The Electric Hotel

The Electric Hotel

A Novel

Dominic Smith

Sarah Crichton Books

BUY THE BOOK

A sweeping work of historical fiction from the New York Times–bestselling author Dominic Smith, The Electric Hotel is a spellbinding story of art and love.

For more than thirty years, Claude Ballard has been living at the Hollywood Knickerbocker Hotel. A French pioneer of silent films who started out as a concession agent for the Lumière brothers, the inventors of cinema, Claude now spends his days foraging for mushrooms in the hills of Los Angeles and taking photographs of runaways and the striplings along Sunset Boulevard. But when a film history student comes to interview Claude about The Electric Hotel—the lost masterpiece that bankrupted him and ended the career of his muse, Sabine Montrose—the past comes surging back. In his run-down hotel suite, the ravages of the past are waiting to be excavated: celluloid fragments in desperate need of restoration, as well as Claude’s memories of the woman who inspired and beguiled him.

The Electric Hotel is a portrait of a man entranced by the magic of moviemaking, a luminous romance, and a whirlwind trip through early cinema. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.

1

The Knickerbocker


Each morning, for more than thirty years, Claude Ballard returned to the hotel lobby with two cameras strapped across his chest and a tote bag full of foraged mushrooms and herbs. His long walking...

Praise for The Electric Hotel

Advance Praise for The Electric Hotel

“A long-retired moviemaker recalls the early days of silent films in Smith's atmospheric follow-up to The Last Painting of Sara De Vos . . . Smith skillfully blends film history with the adventures of his cast . . . Martin's screening of the restored Electric Hotel provides a moving finale. A compelling plot, robust characters, and finely crafted prose richly evoke a bygone age and art.” Kirkus Reviews (starred)

“Fascinating information about the making of silent films is balanced by poignant, emotional portrayals of individuals attempting to define their lives offscreen even as they made history on it. Smith winningly delves into Hollywood’s past.”
Publishers Weekly

“Smith's tale is luminous . . . Highly recommended for historical fiction fans and readers who love old Hollywood novels.”
Booklist (starred)

“As fresh and deliciously strange as the first days of film-making it so dazzlingly brings to life, The Electric Hotel is utterly absorbing, astonishingly inventive, and richly imagined. Dominic Smith is a wizard.”
—Andrea Barrett, National Book Award winner and author of Archangel


Praise for The Last Painting of Sara de Vos

An Amazon Best Book of the Year
A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year

“Audacious . . . Absolutely transporting.”
—Maureen Corrigan, NPR

“Gorgeous storytelling: wry, playful, and utterly alive, with an almost tactile awareness of the emotional contours of the human heart.”
—Laura Collins-H… More…





Advance Praise for The Electric Hotel

“A long-retired moviemaker recalls the early days of silent films in Smith's atmospheric follow-up to The Last Painting of Sara De Vos . . . Smith skillfully blends film history with the adventures of his cast . . . Martin's screening of the restored Electric Hotel provides a moving finale. A compelling plot, robust characters, and finely crafted prose richly evoke a bygone age and art.” Kirkus Reviews (starred)

“Fascinating information about the making of silent films is balanced by poignant, emotional portrayals of individuals attempting to define their lives offscreen even as they made history on it. Smith winningly delves into Hollywood’s past.”
Publishers Weekly

“Smith's tale is luminous . . . Highly recommended for historical fiction fans and readers who love old Hollywood novels.”
Booklist (starred)

“As fresh and deliciously strange as the first days of film-making it so dazzlingly brings to life, The Electric Hotel is utterly absorbing, astonishingly inventive, and richly imagined. Dominic Smith is a wizard.”
—Andrea Barrett, National Book Award winner and author of Archangel


Praise for The Last Painting of Sara de Vos

An Amazon Best Book of the Year
A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year

“Audacious . . . Absolutely transporting.”
—Maureen Corrigan, NPR

“Gorgeous storytelling: wry, playful, and utterly alive, with an almost tactile awareness of the emotional contours of the human heart.”
—Laura Collins-Hughes, The Boston Globe

“Rapturous . . . Smith’s writing is incandescent from the first sentence.”
—Caroline Leavitt, San Francisco Chronicle

Less…

Reviews from Goodreads

Dominic Smith

Dominic Smith grew up in Sydney, Australia, and now lives in Seattle, Washington. He’s the author of the novels The Last Painting of Sara de Vos, Bright and Distant Shores, The Beautiful Miscellaneous, and The Mercury Visions of Louis Daguerre. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, Texas Monthly, and The Australian. He has been a recipient of literature grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Australia Council for the Arts. He teaches writing in the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers.