Length: 320 pages
Publication: February 10, 2015 by St. Martin’s Press
Source: TLC Book Tours
What it’s about:
On a small, unnamed coral atoll in the South Pacific, a group of troubled dreamers must face the possibility that the hopes they’ve labored after so single-mindedly might not lead them to the happiness they feel they were promised. Ann and Richard, an aspiring, Los Angeles power couple, are already sensing the cracks in their version of the American dream when their life unexpectedly implodes, leading them to brashly run away from home to a Robinson Crusoe idyll. Dex Cooper, lead singer of the rock band, Prospero, is facing his own slide from greatness, experimenting with artistic asceticism while accompanied by his sexy, young, and increasingly entrepreneurial muse, Wende. Loren, the French owner of the resort sauvage, has made his own Gauguin-like retreat from the world years before, only to find that the modern world has become impossible to disconnect from. Titi, descendent of Tahitian royalty, worker, and eventual inheritor of the resort, must fashion a vision of the island’s future that includes its indigenous people, while her partner, Cooked, is torn between anarchy and lust. By turns funny and tragic, The Last Good Paradise explores our modern, complex and often, self-contradictory discontents, crafting an exhilirating story about our need to connect in an increasingly networked but isolating world.
What I thought:
I like stories that take a group of very different people and throw them together in a controlled situation, particularly one in which they are out of their element. In this kind of situation, you never know exactly what to expect, and it tends to bring out the best and the worst in people while removing social barriers.
When I first read the description of The Last Good Paradise, that was the kind of story I was expecting. However, I found that the remote tropical setting was used more as a device for the writer, Soli, to express philosophical musings on human nature. The point of view used was too distant for me to gain any kind of sympathy for the characters and their antics were too often concerned with sex for my tastes.
Although The Last Good Paradise wasn’t exactly the style of book that I enjoy, it’s a well-written and entertaining novel that should appeal to readers who appreciate a humorous novel with a dose of philosophy.
Tatjana Soli is a novelist and short story writer. Her bestselling debut novel, The Lotus Eaters, winner of the James Tait Black Prize, was a New York Times Notable Book and finalist for the LA Times Book Award among other honors. Her stories have appeared in Boulevard, The Sun, StoryQuarterly, Confrontation, Gulf Coast, Other Voices, Third Coast, Sonora Review, and North Dakota Quarterly. Her work has been twice listed in the 100 Distinguished Stories in Best American Short Stories. She lives with her husband in Southern California.
I’m giving away one copy of The Last Good Paradise to a lucky reader (U.S. or Canada only, sorry). To enter, just leave a comment with your name and email address. Good luck!
Thanks so much to TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book and giving me a chance to share my review.