Hotel Raphael, Rachael Boast’s fourth collection, charts a journey through heat, drought and pain, and describes not only the reality of chronic illness, but living with it at a time of global crisis. Raphael is the patron saint of travellers and pilgrims, and also of healing; in the search for remedy, we pass through the balm of landscape, and brush against the worlds of artists, writers and filmmakers, whose angels broadcast to us from other rooms. We also encounter the biblical figure of Job, who poses the question of a terrible forbearance: how much suffering can we take, and what can we realistically change? While we fight to relieve our own pain, address the planet’s ecological imbalance and make efforts, large or small, to right its shocking injustices, we must also simply find a way through.
Hotel Raphael sees Boast compose an extraordinary travelling song, one that shows us how to bear our pain without trying to erase its source.