For nearly half a century, Claude Ballard has been living at the Hollywood Knickerbocker Hotel. A French pioneer of silent films, Ballard now spends his days foraging mushrooms in the hills of Los Angeles and taking photographs of runaways along Sunset Boulevard. But in this novel by the author of The Last Painting of Sara de Vos, when a film-history student comes to interview Ballard 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 rundown hotel suite, the ravages of the past are waiting to be excavated: film reels in desperate need of restoration, and Ballard's memories of the woman who inspired and beguiled him.
"An irresistible and dizzying international tale of early cinema. [Smith] is a writer of elegance, rich imagination and propulsive plotting."—Washington Post