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The Hostel

The Hostel

Liana Metal
2008, pp.167, paperback 17.74
ebook 1.25

Fiction/ Romance/ Young Adults

Reviewed by Maria Gouna

Very Highly Recommended

Liana Metal is an EFL teacher, writer, reviewer and artist from Corfu, Greece . She has written many children's stories and non-fiction books as well as ELT books for classroom use and a lot of articles. Among her books are: "The Hostel", "Flowers for women", "Writing Basics", "Bedtime Stories", "The Internet in the EFL Classroom". Visit her at

The story takes place in London in the 70's. Nina is a Greek student staying at a nuns' hostel where she meets many new friends. Some of them are Isabel, Nina's best friend, Zara, Collette and Marie. Of course, many other girls come and go each one for their own reasons and problems. The girls do their best to help each other and to adapt to their new way of life but they are not always successful. However, as Nina is a friendly person she quickly becomes close friends with Maria, a girl of her age who works as a cashier at the supermarket near the hostel and whose mother has died. Whenever Maria has a day off they meet and have fun together; so it happens that on one of Nina's visits to Maria's place, she gets to know her father Phil who is an artist and offers to give her drawing lessons. Nina falls immediately in love with him but it is the first time she feels that way and Phil apart from being her friend's father is much older than her, too. She faces a very serious dilemma but soon things even more complicated when Henry, a young man is decided to do whatever it takes in order to be with Nina. Will she be able to cope with the unexpected events happening in her life? Will she follow her heart? Will her stay at the hostel change her life for ever?

The story is divided into 20 chapters. It is written in a simple and clear way without fictional exaggerations so that it can be read by everyone. It caters not only to young adults but to everybody interested in romance as well. The characters are everyday people and the readers will not find it hard to identify with them. Moreover, there are a lot of dialogues throughout the novel that make it more appealing and stimulate the reader's interest. Finally, both the characters and the places are described in such a vivid and detailed way that brings the plot to life. Young adults will certainly love it.

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Maria Gouna

ESL teacher \ book reviewer







Read an excerpt from the book:




“My name’s Henry,” he told her.  “What’s yours?”


“Nina,” she replied.


He smiled at her.  “Nina, a lovely name…,” Henry said.


“What did you say?” Nina said.  “I can’t hear you! The music is too loud.”


“I love your name,” he said loudly.


Nina blushed and then the music slowed down and they started dancing to a passionate love song.  Henry’s face touched her cheek and she did not react.  She let the music drive her to a dream world.


As the night went by the girls were absorbed in their partners and nobody noticed the time.  Nina was busy chatting with Henry in a dark corner of the disco, and when he bent over and kissed her she did not go away.  She liked that warm feeling that flooded her body and wished it would never end.  He kissed her again and again and they were still kissing when the clock struck twelve.  Nina jumped up.


“Oh, my God!”  She said.  “It’s midnight!”

“So, what?” Henry said.  “You are not Cinderella, are you?” he joked.


“This is not funny,” Nina replied and tried to think fast.  “I must find the other girls!”


He let go of her and she ran around the place trying to spot her friends.


“Wait, Nina,” Henry shouted, “I’m coming with you!”


She did not find any of them.


“They’re gone!” she said in despair.  “ So silly of me!”


“Come on,” Henry tried to comfort her," I’ll take you home.”


He got a cab and they drove silently for some time.


“What’s going to happen now?” Nina wondered.  “The hostel will be locked up.  I won’t get in!”


“Come on , love,” Henry told her.  “Don’t look like this!  We’ve had such a nice time together, let’s not spoil it.  You’ll be Okay!”


“You don’t understand!” she said.  “I live in a nuns’ hostel  and they lock it up at 11.30.  I’ll have to stay out – for the first time in my life!”


Henry smiled.

“No, you don’t!  You can come to my place.  I live in a flat, you know.”


“No, thanks,” Nina replied.  Now she started feeling a bit scared for some reason.  The magic of the night was gone all at once.


“I appreciate it though,” she told him a minute later.


When the cab reached the hostel, Nina and Henry got out and tried the iron gate.


“It’s locked,” Nina said.  She looked around.  All the lights were off.

“Nobody is around,”she said helplessly.


“Ring the bell,” Henry suggested.


“No way! ”  Nina said.  “I don’t want to wake the nuns up!”


“What will you do then?”  he said.  “I can’t stay here the whole night, I’ve got to work tomorrow,” he added.


“Go then,” Nina told him.  “It’s not your fault after all… and I know what to do.  The Police station is nearby.”


Henry said nothing for a moment but he looked at Nina in a way meaning ‘are you insane?’


He kissed her goodnight and left in the darkness leaving Nina all alone.  She hurriedly walked to the Police station which was just a few meters away.


“Can I stay here till morning, please?” she asked a young policeman.


“Sure you can,” he replied.  “Are you one of the girls of the hostel?” he asked her.


“Yes, and I was late tonight,” Nina said.


“I understand,” the policeman said and smiled.  “Would you like a cup of coffee?”



The next morning, as soon as the door was unlocked, Nina got into the hostel.

Collette was waiting for her.


“What’s happened to you girl?” she asked .  “We were all worried about you!”


Nina explained that when she noticed the time the girls were gone.


“But we looked for you around the disco and we couldn’t find you!” Collette insisted.

“Where were you hiding?”


“I was not hiding!” Nina defended herself.  “It was so dark in there and you missed me, that’s all!”


She did not mention Henry.


On the same afternoon, sister Pia knocked on Nina’s door.


Nina guessed the reason for this visit.


“The Police said you stayed there overnight,” she said.  “This is not right for a girl like you, so, please, don’t do it again!”


“I’m sorry,” Nina apologized.  “It won’t happen again.”


Sister Pia looked satisfied and left.  Nina thought that the trouble was over. 


“Nina, someone is calling you,” a girl shouted from the telephone booth some time later.


“Me?” Nina replied.  “Are you sure?”


“It’s your boyfriend,” Sherry shouted back.  “He wants to talk to you!”


Nina rushed to the booth in the hall.  Sherry had been shouting and everybody heard her.


“Hello,” she said picking up the receiver.


“Is that you, Nina?” a male voice asked.  “I’m Henry.”


“Hi, Henry,” Nina said. 


“Are you all right?” he asked.  “I’ve called to check if everything’s Okay over there.”


“Thanks, everything’s fine,” Nina said.”  “I’m fine, too.  Thanks for calling.”


She was ready to hang up.


“Please, wait,” Henry said.  “Will you meet me this weekend?”


“Don’t know,” Nina replied.


“I promise we’ll be back early,” he insisted.


“I’m busy, I’ve got exams,” Nina lied.


“I’ll call you back next week, then?” he asked.


“Okay, bye,” Nina hang up.


Sherry winked at her.


“Your new boyfriend, isn’t he?” she asked.


“He’s not my boyfriend ,” Nina said ,"but a plain friend!"  She was not in the mood of joking.  She was annoyed.


In the evening, sister Pia  approached Nina once more.


“I’ve heard you’re having a boyfriend ,” she told her.


Nina got annoyed.


“What if I have one?” she said.



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