Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Last Good Paradise: Review and Giveaway

“Absinthe is the only decent drink that suits an artist.”
~ Paul Gauguin 

Having read two other books by best-selling author Tatjana Soli, The Lotus Eaters (2010) and The Forgetting Tree (2012), I was excited by the prospect of reading her new novel, published this month, The Last Good Paradise.  As is often the case when I read a new book by a tried and true author, though, I keep my fingers crossed and hope for the best, because I "worry" that I may not enjoy it quite as much as the previous ones I've read. 

"She took a huge breath, closed her eyes, and dreamed that soon her life as a painter would start, or her life as a mother, or as co-owner of a successful restaurant, even if she kept her law day job, which was really a day-and-night-and-weekends job. "
~The Last Good Paradise, Tatjana Soli

In The Last Good Paradise, Ann is a lawyer in Los Angeles, a "lowly associate" at Flask, Flask, Gardiner, Bulkington, Bartleby, and Peleg.  She feels insignificant and unfulfilled as a lawyer, as if she's not living the life she was meant to live.  Ann wants to have a baby and to go to art school and to show her art in galleries, but she's postponed her own dreams for the sake of her husband's dream.  Her husband of ten years, Richard, is about to open a restaurant with his partner, Javi.    The three celebrate Ann's thirty-eighth birthday, and look forward to the restaurant's opening.  But this joy is short-lived.  Due to Javi's financial recklessness, his ex-wife, Inez, has just sued him, and has filed an injunction to freeze the restaurant's account, which is actually Ann's and Richard's life savings, meant to pay for the entire first year of restaurant expenses.  Panic-stricken, Ann rushes to the bank and quickly withdraws all of the money out of the account, before the court order arrives at the bank.  She and Richard escape this financial fiasco by flying to Papeete, the capital of French Polynesia.  On Papeete, they meet Loren, who runs an "unplugged", pricey resort, Tahitian workers Titi and Cooked, and another American couple, rockstar Dex Cooper (from Prospero) and his attractive young "muse", Wende.

I enjoyed many things about this novel, especially the enticing emphasis on cooking and food.  Gradually, we learn more about each of the main characters--Ann, Richard, Javi, Dex, and Wende, Loren, Titi, and Cooked--who are searching for love, peace, and purpose, to varying degrees.

Tahiti photo from Wikipedia

While reading The Last Good Paradise, I was whisked away to the warm, tropical setting of French Polynesia (where Gauguin settled in later years to paint).  There are surprises throughout the book, and it held my attention quite well, most of the time.  A few parts of this book left me puzzled and wondering.  (Pardon my little spoiler, but does Wende really need to punch Dex in the nose?  Ouch!)  The story became a bit "blurry" to me in certain parts of the book (the last fifth or so).  But, I was reading an ARC of this book, so perhaps the final edition is more polished and clear. 

Overall, I found this novel to be rather intriguing, and I looked forward to my time reading it.  Tatjana Soli writes beautifully.  She's a very talented contemporary writer, in my opinion, one of the best.  The Last Good Paradise is about finding your purpose and passion, and the courage to pursue it.  Perhaps this is how we create our own positive, private paradise.  I think this is what Tatjana Soli does as an author.

Thanks to the author and TLC, I'm pleased to offer a giveaway for The Last Good Paradise (U.S.A. /Canada).

  • To enter this giveaway, simply leave a comment.
  • For another chance at winning, become a follower of this blog, or indicate that you're already a follower.
  • For an additional chance, post about this contest on your blog, Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter.
  • For one more chance, let me know what book you would bring with you to a tropical island such as Tahiti.

Enter by 5 PM PDT on Monday, March 9.  One winner will be selected randomly and announced on Tuesday, March 10.  Good luck to all!

Special thank to Lisa from TLC for providing a copy of this book. For more reviews and other features, please visit the other stops on TLC's book blog tour for The Last Good Paradise.


  1. That is a beautiful photo of Tahiti. It is interesting that Gauguin settled there to paint. This book sounds interesting. I like the idea that it is about finding a pursuing your passion. I am already a follower of your blog. My first thought is to bring Flip Flops to Tahiti. I'll tweet your post. Thanks for your great review and the giveaway!

  2. I've never read this author but the thought of being whisked away to a tropical island sounds good to me! I think I would take something like, a beach book, if you will, to an island like Tahiti. Thanks for the giveaway!

  3. Thanks for your great review and giveaway. This novel is fascinating and captivating. A book that I would bring along would be a family saga, The House at Tyneford. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  4. I would love to be whisked away to a tropical paradise right about now even if it's only through a novel. And I would take a stack of books and some refreshing drinks. (I say this as I gaze out the window and more snow!). I posted a link on Under My Apple Tree's facebook page and I'll tweet it too.

  5. No need to enter me into the giveaway, but I really enjoyed this novel. I loved the setting and the struggles, but I did find Wende a bit annoying.

  6. This sounds like a really good book.

  7. Great review Suko.

    I have heard a bit about this book as several folks have blogged about it.

    The prospect of running away and escaping it all is something that I think fascinates people. That makes this type of story interesting.

    I have never read an ARC. Is it common for major edits to occur afterwards?

    1. Brian Joseph, my guess is that most changes are pretty minor, although there could be exceptions. I'm kind of surprised that you haven't read any ARCS--perhaps you need to sign up for some book tours. Thanks for stopping by!

  8. Sounds great. I follow your blog jtretin at aol dot com

  9. I've been reading a lot about this book all raves.i am an email follower.will tweet@rhondareads.

    1. Congrats, Rhonda! You are the winner of this book, announced in today's post. Please email me your email address as I couldn't find it. Thanks! :)

  10. A great cover. I'm so pleased that the writing proved just as beautiful.

  11. Thanks for the chance to win such a nice looking book. I think we'd both enjoy the culinary aspects of the story too and of course the setting is perfect for this time of year. Have a great day.
    +1 I follow your blog by email: carlscott(at)prodigy(dot)net(dot)mx
    +1 I pinned the cover on Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/336573772127688697/
    +1 If I was going to Tahiti I think I'd bring along David Sweetman's biography of the artist: Paul Gauguin: A Complete Life
    Thanks again.

    1. Thank you for sharing this giveaway, Carl. Great book choice!

  12. Nice review, Suko. Glad you enjoyed it overall.

  13. This looks like a great book. Thanks for the chance.

  14. I could use a trip to a tropical destination right about now ... too much snow here for me.

    I'm glad to see that you enjoyed this book. Thanks for being a part of the tour!

  15. I've had my eye on this one as it was offered through AmazonVine and I am a fan of this authors. I enjoyed The Lotus Eaters.
    The French Polynesian setting sounds great. I wonder if the ARC is the reason for some of the parts to be a bit off?
    Glad you enjoyed it overall!

  16. I worry as well when I read other books my authors that I have loved. I don't know why as they usually never let me down but the hesitation is still there. This sounds like an interesting read overall and I am glad that you enjoyed it. I think that I would try The Lotus Eaters by this author first so I shall add that one to my TBR list :) Thanks!

  17. Lovely review, I am not eligble for the giveaway but good luck to everyone, sounds like an interesting read.

    Lainy http://www.alwaysreading.net

  18. Thank you all very much for the comments, tweets, pins and other shares. Please return tomorrow to find out who won The Last Good Paradise! :)

  19. This book is on my TBR list. I always wanted to visit Tahiti. You make the story sound so inviting. Thank you


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