Monday, February 16, 2015

G534 Book Review of The Last Good Paradise by Tatjana Soli

Name of Book:The Last Good Paradise

Author: Tatjana Soli

ISBN: 978-1-250-04396-2

Publisher: St. Martin's Press

Type of book: Deserted Island, technology, fidelity, art, couples, food, cooking, discovering self, hiding self, literary references, complexity, letting go, modern days, the good old days

Year it was published: 2015


From the bestselling author of The Lotus Eaters and The Forgetting Tree comes a novel set on an island resort, where guests attempting to flee their troubles realize they can’t escape who they are.

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 exhilarating story about our need to connect in an increasingly networked but isolating world.


There are seven main characters in the story, that of Ann and Richard, a couple from Los Angeles. Ann is a lawyer or an ex-lawyer who seems to have lost her passion and desire for work and she seems to put herself in the backburner and focuses a lot on her husband, Richard. Richard is a talented chef who hates working with meat and also has lost his passion for cooking. Dex and Wende are another couple, Wende a pretend airhead who seems to be insecure in using her mind, while Dex seems to be denial about aging and is looking for a kick to being back on top. Titi descends from royalty and is a matronly and resentful figure due to the fact that she can't enjoy luxuries on the island she was born on, while Cooked is her intended and desires to be a revolutionary or to change life on the islands. Loren is the owner of this specific resort and has his own complicated history of betrayal and denial. Aside from Titi and Cooked, all the characters are memorable and well developed.


We are all connected


The story is in third person narrative from Loren's, Ann's, Richard's, Cooked's, Titi's, Dex's, and Wende's points of view. The character backgrounds are pretty fascinating and they're not something you'll forget anytime soon. What was annoying was the character hopping from one person to another with very little warning in advance and towards the middle the story veers off into complete ridiculousness that I wasn't sure whether to be serious or to laugh. The balancing act between comedy and serious issues wasn't handled well at all, and I'm not quite sure what to take away. What I did enjoy about the book is how rich the character exploration was when one took away technology from them and dropped them into an exclusive and isolated resort. The character backgrounds are very rich and detailed and its impossible to confuse one for the other.

Author Information:
(From TLC)

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tatjana_150 copyAbout Tatjana Soli

TATJANA SOLI is a novelist and short story writer. Her New York Times bestselling debut novel, The Lotus Eaters, was the winner of the James Tait Black Prize, a New York Times Notable Book, and a finalist for the LA Times Book Award. Her critically acclaimed second novel The Forgetting Tree was also a New York Times Notable book . Her stories have appeared in ZyzzyvaBoulevard, and The Sun, and have been listed in Best American Short Stories. She lives with her husband in Southern California.


I have a question: is this supposed to be a comedy or something serious or a satire of sorts? I didn't know whether to laugh or to feel sorry for the characters because the book does delve with very serious issues but I feel that I came away with fluff a lot more than with seriousness. The serious issues included that of nuclear side effects for the Polynesian inhabitants and that governments around the world refuse to do anything about them, as well as trying to get away from today's life and job and find that ideal piece of paradise no matter how expensive it is. There is also fidelity and exploration between casual and serious relationships and of technology as an art form. Unfortunately these pieces of gems are the proverbial needles within the haystacks. The first half of the book I actually found pretty interesting as well as contemplative, while the second half up until someone's major life decision tended to be boring, and afterwards it got interesting again. The balancing act between comedy and seriousness isn't handled well and towards the almost end the story does veer off into ridiculousness. Characters themselves seem to change way too quickly and I didn't really feel as if I understood their inner workings prior to changes. If you are looking for a challenging novel where you have act as a detective to understand what's going on, then this might be an read.

This is for TLC Book Tours

Tatjana Soli’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Tuesday, February 3rd: Books a la Mode – author guest post
Wednesday, February 4th: Too Fond
Thursday, February 5th: Savvy Verse and Wit
Monday, February 9th: Caribousmom
Monday, February 9th: BookNAround
Tuesday, February 10th: Kahakai Kitchen
Tuesday, February 10th: The Feminist Texican Reads
Wednesday, February 11th: A Bookish Affair
Thursday, February 12th: Writing Whimsy
Friday, February 13th: Books on the Table
Monday, February 16th: The Well Read Redhead
Monday, February 16th: Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Tuesday, February 17th: Lit and Life
Tuesday, February 17th: Kritter’s Ramblings
Wednesday, February 18th: Reader’s Oasis
Thursday, February 19th: Book Dilettante
Friday, February 20th: Olduvai Reads
Monday, February 23rd: 5 Minutes for Books
Monday, February 23rd: Suko’s Notebook
Tuesday, February 24th: Patricia’s Wisdom
Wednesday, February 25th: nomadreader
3 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

1 comment:

  1. I like your description of the reader as the detective figuring out the story.

    Thanks for being a part of the tour.


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