Daughter of Laharna
by Patricia E. Beattie

"It was a rule of Dad's that any guest could ask to enter the kitchen... to check for cleanliness."

The author has a unique story about which to reminisce. This book is Beattie's recollections of living in Northern Ireland—specifically, in Laharna, a former hotel in Larne. The author describes the family sleeping quarters by hotel room numbers. "Mum and Dad's bedroom, Number 72,... Our bedroom was actually numbers 73 and 74 made into one large room... Mavis slept in Number 69." Imagine having your twenty-first birthday in the likes of the Ritz or the Four Seasons. Such was Beattie's life.

Part history, part memoir, and part coffee table photo expose, there is something for everyone within these pages. And, beyond that, for readers unaccustomed to Irish words and expressions, there is a charm and elegance in that regard as well. The photographs are old and exquisite. They are well-chosen for the book and make for a fascinating historical record. There are photographs of the people, the hotel, the bars and restaurants within the building, the menus, the brochures, the prices… virtually everything.

One of the most fascinating parts of the memoir is Beattie's detailed descriptions of WWII rationing. Her father had to buy food and plan meals for guests (not at Laharna, but at another location) within strict rationing restrictions. Modern readers, accustomed to lodging amenities today, will likely find these difficulties as hard to imagine as growing up in a hotel. Another vivid memory Beattie describes that readers will most assuredly enjoy is that of a Christmas Day when Laharna was closed to guests. Not everyone gets to have their own private Christmas celebration in a grand hotel.

The author's book is historically interesting, but what is also touching is her obvious admiration for her family. Readers get to meet them and live this storybook life vicariously, including the church singing and playing together. In essence, Beattie offers her audience a tender and heartwarming journey into a relatively unusual upbringing.

Return to USR Home