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Review: The Paradise Guest House

May 10, 2013

The Paradise Guest House

As a travel guide, Jamie is sent to Bali to plan possible tours for her company when the unthinkable happens – she and her boyfriend are in one of the nightclubs that is bombed by terrorists.  Her boyfriend dies but Jamie is rescued by a stranger.  When she’s invited to a commemorative ceremony a year later, Jamie decides to go, hoping to put the past behind her and to see Gabe, the man who rescued her, again.

The Paradise Guest House, by Ellen Sussman, has been getting lots of great buzz so I was really excited to read it.  I have a feeling my expectations were way to high because while I liked the book, I didn’t love it the way most people have.  As much as I empathized with Jamie, I had trouble understanding her feelings.  She felt guilty for not agreeing to marry her boyfriend and seemed to grieve his death but was also anxious to see Gabe.

Beautifully written, the book focuses on grief and the fact that everyone processes it differently.  It doesn’t drown in sorrow, though – there are many uplifting, and even some funny, moments in the book.  The story alternates between the year after the bombing, 2003, and the past and I found some of the shifts in the narrative confusing.

I listened to the audio version of The Paradise Guest House and do wonder if I would have enjoyed the book more in print.  Ann Marie Lee does a fine job reading the book but, for me, her voice was a little too breathy or “whispery” and I found it distracting.  The book is on seven CDs and lasts approximately eight and a half hours.

Review copy provided by Random House.  I am an Indiebound Affliate.
19 Comments leave one →
  1. sandynawrot permalink
    May 10, 2013 6:16 am

    I like Ann Marie Lee as a narrator but you are right, you do need to match the voice to the personality of the character. I’m not sure if I’ll chase this one down or not.

  2. May 10, 2013 6:17 am

    I’m laughing after reading your comment about the audio book reader as I just reserved this one yesterday. Fortunately I have the eGalley in case it doesn’t work out on audio. Sounds pretty good Kathy.

  3. May 10, 2013 7:22 am

    This has my interest but I don’t think I’m going to rush right out for it.

  4. May 10, 2013 7:58 am

    Love that cover!

  5. bookingmama permalink
    May 10, 2013 8:07 am

    I’m with Candace on this one. I’m interested but not rushing!

  6. May 10, 2013 8:23 am

    I agree – the choice of narrator makes an important difference!

  7. May 10, 2013 8:58 am

    Haven’t read it yet but really liked French Lessons. Ellen is local to my area, Northern California, and I have seen her recently on two occasions. The first was at a book-signing event, and the second was as a panelist, with Jane Smiley and one other author, for a panel discussion of Women’s Literature vs. Chick Lit. She’s bright and engaging and loves presenting to, and meeting with, book lovers. See her if you get the chance.

  8. May 10, 2013 10:33 am

    I wasn’t thrilled with the book either, but it wasn’t bad.

    Thanks for your thoughts.

  9. talesofwhimsy permalink
    May 10, 2013 10:53 am

    Good honest review. I pondered this one after I read a review from a friend recently.

  10. May 10, 2013 11:19 am

    Hmmmm, maybe I should go with the print version of this. I’m pretty flexible with audio but breathy might drive me batty!

  11. May 10, 2013 12:10 pm

    I guess I never paid much attention to what the book is about because I missed the terrorist plot. Probably not for me.

  12. May 10, 2013 12:29 pm

    This one caught my eye too, and I’m glad it doesn’t drown in sorrow like you said. I might eventually try it.

  13. Patty permalink
    May 10, 2013 3:39 pm

    Hmmm…this is one of those books that looks so good but I hesitate when it comes to actually reading it…I love the cover, though!

  14. May 10, 2013 5:41 pm

    I have been wanting to read this one…but I will definitely choose the print version. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  15. May 10, 2013 6:52 pm

    Kathy, I read and reviewed this book last month. (I need to go back and read my review to refresh my memory!) It’s interesting to hear your thoughts on this, especially as an audiobook. 🙂

  16. May 10, 2013 7:53 pm

    Thank you for the honest review. The Paradise Guest House has caught my eye before.

  17. May 10, 2013 11:21 pm

    The cover is so cool that it would be worth having the print version.

  18. May 13, 2013 3:46 pm

    I find that I have problems with audio books because usually I’m annoyed by the narrator’s voice. After so many like that, I’ve just given up on them. Plus my mind wanders. Anyway…this does sound like a good book.

  19. May 14, 2013 10:48 pm

    I do believe that I’ve read a book by her and liked it. I think I would stick to print with this one because I truly think highly of your audio recommendations. If you think it was breathy then I am sure it was. I can be very picky when it comes to narrators!

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