[The White Hotel] is an amazing book. While … [the] and then method of retelling a book's story in order to assess its worth is not always satisfactory, in The White Hotel it seems particularly fitting, as the how of the story—the way in which it is told—merges with such fluidity with the tale itself, and as well, with its vision. Freud's letters tell the story, as do Lisa's poem and journals, Freud's case history, Lisa's dreams.
The white hotel is Europe before the wars. The white hotel is consciousness itself, before Freud. The white hotel is innocence. The white hotel is purity, and also inhumanity. Lisa Erdman cannot become altogether good, any more than she can live out a single version of reality. Dreams are reality along with imagination and fantasy. In this book D. M. Thomas manages to take us beyond those boundaries, from one to the other without slipping over into silliness. That shadowy place between black and white is his country, where eroticism in the fullest sense of the word can pulse and thrive.
The White Hotel is an amazing book, impeccably formed, gracefully written; a work of high imagination, not to mention risk. It is something to celebrate. (p. 14)
Beverly Lowry, "Beyond Boundaries," in Lone Star Review (copyright © 1981 Lone Star Review, Inc.), Vol. 3, No. 2, April, 1981, pp. 10, 14.