Posted by: Lizzie Ross | December 16, 2011

An Englishman on the beach

Paradise News (1991), David Lodge, 294 pp.

I love library book sales. I’ve found gems (and fool’s gold) in bins next to the check-out desk. It’s always worth sorting through at least the top layer, just to see if there’s something worth grabbing for a buck. This was.

Bernard Walsh, a lonely loner recovering from a failed relationship, finds true love on the beaches of paradise. BUT. Walsh’s failed relationship was with the Catholic Church; he arrives in Hawaii with his father to visit the father’s estranged sister; and the love he finds is the woman (Yolande Miller) who puts his father in the hospital the day after they arrive by hitting him with her car.

Walsh’s journey, from the moment he talks his father into flying from England to Hawaii, is fraught with whiny old folks, whiny tourists, and his own almost-whiny lack of sex-exteem. Mostly because he’s never had any. He doesn’t set out to lose his virginity in Hawaii, but I had to cheer when it happened.

Is it possible for a middle-aged man to be the hero of a coming-of-age novel? If so, Walsh is that hero.

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