Like many of you, I follow my favorite authors. Thus, when I saw that Ellen Sussman’s new book, THE PARADISE GUEST HOUSE, was coming out, I was eager to read an advance copy (I loved her 2011 title, FRENCH LESSONS). Here, Sussman sets her story in Bali. Jamie, who is an adventure guide, returns to Bali years after she was injured in the 2002 nightclub bombings. She longs to reconnect with Gabe, who rescued her that evening. I confess that while I remember these bombings, I had forgotten the details. The intertwining of that history along with their personal stories was so well handled here.
As she did in FRENCH LESSONS, Sussman gives each of the characters their own sections of the book so we get to know them well before she ties them together. There are many times when a storyline halts before it is completely revealed, which gives great tension to the writing and propels the page turning. It’s packed with emotion of love and loss. And it makes the Bali tragedy a lot more real to many of us who read the stories that accompanied the headlines, but never explored it in depth. So much loss of life and destruction!
One more thing. This is a short book --- just 288 pages --- and thus the prose really packs a punch and a lot of emotion.