I adored Tatjana Soli’s debut novel, The Lotus Eaters, and really enjoyed her followup, The Forgetting Tree, so I was incredibly excited for her third novel which was released this week, The Last Good Paradise. I’ll admit it–I had high expectations, always a dangerous way to start off a book. Unfortunately, they were not satisfied.
The Last Good Paradise by Tatjana Soli* takes place on an unplugged resort in the South Pacific where Ann (a lawyer) and Richard (a chef) run off to after potential financial ruin. There is an awfully long set up to even get Ann and Richard to the resort, during which I probably would have given up if I hadn’t a) agreed to write this review and b) loved Soli’s writing in the past. The Last Good Paradise does improve once Ann and Richard arrive, and meet the eclectic cast of individuals staying there, including the French owner with a big secret, Loren.
He didn’t know her well enough to say that in his experience what people left behind ended up being much less important than they thought. It was a kind of ego, imagining one’s life irreplaceable and unique.
What has always immersed me in Soli’s books in the past is her writing, and there are certainly moments of brilliance spattered into the storyline, although the story itself never quite captured me. It felt like a book with *a message*– about technology and how alone we can be even while being totally connected. I appreciated some of the moments of humour, but ultimately The Last Good Paradise got bogged down in drama between the characters and got continuously more over-the-top.
Someone once told him it was foolish to love something so temporary, so destined to quickly disappear, as food, and his answer was, find me the thing to love that will last forever.
As much as I wanted from The Last Good Paradise, is how much I was disappointed by Soli’s third novel. While her writing was still strong, the characters in particular lacked the depth of The Lotus Eaters, and I definitely recommend picking up her debut instead. Seriously, do it–it’s stunning!
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