A grand hotel in the center of 1920s Berlin serves as a microcosm of the modern world in Vicki Bauma??s celebrated novel, a Weimar-era best seller that retains all its verve and luster today. Among the guests of the hotel is Doctor Otternschlag, a World War I veteran whose face has been sliced in half by a shell. Day after day he emerges to read the paper in the lobby, discreetly inquiring at the desk if the letter hea??s been awaiting for years has arrived. Then there is Grusinskaya, a great ballerina now fighting a losing battle not so much against age as against her fear of it, who may or may not be made for Gaigern, a sleek professional thief. Herr Preysing also checks in, the director of a family firm that isna??t as flourishing as it appears, who would never imagine that Kringelein, his underling, a timorous petty clerk hea??s bullied for years, has also come to Berlin, determined to live at last now that hea??s received a medical death sentence. All these characters and more, with all their secrets and aspirations, come together and come alive in the pages of Bauma??s delicious and??disturbing masterpiece.