Book Review: 'The Last Good Paradise'
Thursday, February 12, 2015
Tatjana Soli. St. Martin's Press: 406 pp. $25.99
In some ways, Tatjana Soli's novel "The Last Good Paradise" reminded me of the movie "Couples Retreat," starring Vince Vaughn, Malin Ackerman and Jon Favreau. In "Couples Retreat," several couples attend a combined marital therapy retreat and vacation in paradise. In "The Last Good Paradise," Ann and Richard travel to the South Pacific to work on their marriage and escape the stresses of their life back home in Los Angeles.
Richard is a chef, launching a Mexican-French fusion restaurant with his longtime friend Javi. The problem is that Javi has a spending problem, and they're facing bankruptcy even before they open the doors.
Ann, a powerhouse lawyer at her nearly all-male firm, is struggling to find balance between her rising career and her desire for motherhood. In an effort to save their life savings from the restaurant's ruin, she withdraws the cash from the account before a court order seizes the funds. It's technically against the law, but she sees it as their only option.
Now they're on an island in the South Pacific, nearly completely cut off from the world and sharing the resort with a rock-star and his self-proclaimed "muse."
"The Last Good Paradise" begins a little slow, likely because of all the background Soli needs to cover in the relatively complicated plot, but things definitely pick up once Ann and Richard get to the resort and meet the band of characters that make up the other vacationers and the staff. Soli's writing is solid, especially when it comes to her descriptions of food (Richard's passion in life).
Overall, the book is a clear example of what can happen in moments of desperation, and a balancing act between what is right and what is necessary.