Almost Paradise: Ali Bacon finds something missing on her desert island

Ginger Torch Lily - totally tropical
I’m lucky to be just back from a Caribbean holiday where we were greeted more than once with the words ‘welcome to paradise!’ and it was easy to see the comparison: exotic plants, colourful birds, and the kind of warmth I always associate with the big greenhouses we visited as kids in our local park – except this was everywhere and 24/7 - a joy after a cold December. Add fresh pineapple, melon, papaya and spiced rum punch more or less on tap and you can guess we were happy.

Our friend the 'breakfast bird'
But paradise? I began to get picky. As we were deposited from our courtesy bus on to a pretty but rather busy beach, I muttered to my companion that I had imagined paradise to be a lot less populated. Then there was the night-time noise. I expect I would eventually have got used to the chirruping crickets and squeaky tree-frogs but   when these were joined by the crash of rain on our homely tin roof I was reaching for the ear-plugs.

Yes, I really was being picky because the scenery was gorgeous and there was always something new to see and taste. Then, in our second week, we found the real paradise in the shape of Sandy Island – a perfect spot, uninhabited and just a twenty minute boat ride away. The palm-fringed beach was ours for the day, the water perfect for swimming as waves crashed scenically over a protective reef. With the rest of our small beach party I stripped off, swam, then lay out my towel for a rest and a read.
But alas, in the packing of sunscreen, flipflops, towel and Deet, my Kindle had been left behind. Yes, I had NO BOOK!

Sandy Island - almost Paradise
Of course there are worse places (hospital wards, dentists’ waiting rooms?) to be stuck without a book, and I coped for the few hours either side of our barbecue tuna lunch. It just reminded me how important books are in good times as well as bad and how that radio show has it the wrong way round. I could probably manage with a couple of discs but even allowing for the Bible and Shakespeare, I’d need a lot more than one book!

Maybe for next time I’ll think about what my Desert Island Books would be. To be going on with, here’s what I did read on the rest of our lovely trip.

Capital Stories – just 4 short stories from Edinburgh writers. What a great idea to publish a bite-sized anthology with a city focus. (Reviewed here.) 

A Message from the Other Side by Moira Forsyth – one of my favourite writers comes up trumps again. (Reviewed here)

Bendiction by Kent Harulf –a downbeat premise but another stunningly beautiful account of small-town America.

The Truth About Melody Brown by Lisa Jewell – my book club read for January was an excellent  story with a likeable and misused heroine, though something in the timeline got me irritated.

Odd Child Out by Gilly Macmillan – my first read by this Bristol thriller writer took a while to get going but had me well and truly hooked by the harrowing conclusion. I’ll be looking at more from Gilly. 

Ali Bacon's next book, In the Blink of an Eye is set in Victorian Edinburgh and will be published in April 2018 by Linen Press


Susan Price said…
I shall be checking out some of those books.
But this raises a chilling question -- when and if we get to Paradise, will there be books?
I'd always assumed there would be. Would have to be. But... but...
After all, novel-reading has often been thought to be trivial and sinful. Reading books that lead to free-thinking and forbidden knowledge likewise.
So maybe there are no books in Heaven? Maybe not even the Bible, since it has caused more than enough upset.
Are all the libraries in Hell? In which case...
AliB said…
Hah - I like your thinking Susan, or maybe I don't! I suppose I was thinking of earthly (metaphorical paradises - is there are plural?) rather than the original. So now I'm thinking of the Garden of Eden - how would that have worked out if Adam and Eve had books as a distraction from sin?

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