Paradise News, by David Lodge

Bernard Walsh takes his reluctant father Jack on a trip to Hawaii, where Ursula, Jack's sister, is dying. On the first day of their stay, Jack is knocked down and taken to hospital, where he is confined for two weeks, leaving Bernard to sort out Ursula's affairs and to explore Hawaii on his own. The story mainly focuses on Bernard's adventures, but also tells how others in the holiday party get on (including one Brian Everthorpe, who made an appearance in Nice Work).

I've not read this one for a while and had the impression that it was a bit weak. But I really enjoyed it. Like Nice Work, there wasn't too much tricksy stuff going on: mostly told in the third person, apart from the middle section which was in the form of a journal by Bernard. Needless to say the journal itself has a place in the story. It was funny and also moving in parts, I had a tear in my eye towards the end (and not because of Ursula's death). Actually, it occurs to me that maybe it would have been a more honest book if it had not had such a happy ending. But I'm not complaining.

Bernard is a lapsed Catholic, and Ursula has re-found her faith, and so there was a fair amount of theological discussion. In fact maybe a bit too much for the story: I found myself switching off a bit for some of these sections. I think maybe I was too taken with the story to spot any intertextuality or references here.

The book was a bit spoiled by the reader (forgotten his name) who made several mistakes and mispronunciations. He pronounced Yolande as "Yoland" throughout, which I'm pretty sure is wrong, but some others, such as the mispronunciation of "eschatological" and "gambolling" ("gam-bowling") were less forgiveable. And although when Yolande was speaking, she had an American accent, when wrote a letter, that was read in an English one. I was quite surprised by this: I don't think I've heard so many (any?) mistakes before: didn't they listen through to this?

Anyway, it was another really good read.

Completed : 19-Nov-2006 (audiobook)

Read this again (not on audiobook) because I'd lent Therapy to Ian and I wanted to read some more David Lodge. Also, the Michael Frayn book I'd recenly finished reminded me of it.

I really liked it. Not much to add to the previous review, apart from the fact that I noticed this time how much emphasis there was on the afterlife (or absence of it), so that the paradise of the title has multiple meanings.

In this book, Lodge uses the same Faith, Hope and Doris joke that appears in What a Carve Up! (although it's Faith, Hope and Brenda there). Paradise News was published in 1991, three years before the Coe book, so maybe Coe plagiarised a bit. Or maybe the original joke is older than I'd realised.

Lodge's novels seem so readable. I wish they didn't end.

Completed : 10-Aug-2013

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