~ 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.