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Paradise News Paperback – June 1, 1993

4.5 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Bernard Walsh is planning a quiet visit to his sick aunt in Hawaii. A cynical ex-priest in search of a well-needed vacation, he is unprepared for this zany package tour from Hell populated with all the "types": dueling newlyweds, boring salesmen, video happy seniors, romance starved spinsters, and a sexy native girl on a collision course with fate (or at least Walsh's father). Lodge combines an interesting mix of viewpoints and writing styles, switching among characters and including such diverse approaches as diaries and postcards. Essential for anyone who loves to travel or wishes they could, this is highly recommended for vacation reading collections. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 12/91.
-Suzanne C. Garrison-Terry, Dowling Coll. Lib., Oakdale, N.Y.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

Lodge combines his past fictional interests in Catholicism (The British Museum is Falling Down, etc.) and social satire (Nice Work, etc.) to produce this always engaging and clever tale of innocents abroad. The unlikely naif is Bernard Walsh, a rather dour, middle- aged, part-time instructor in theology from a minor college in Lodge's fictional town of Rummidge. What we don't know at first is that he's also a former priest, the son of Irish-born immigrants to South London who have never become reconciled with their son's descent into apostasy--his now ``wasted life.'' When the family's first black sheep summons Bernard to her deathbed in Hawaii, he agrees to attempt a reunion between her and her brother--Bernard's cantankerous father--whom she hasn't spoken to in 40 years. Getting old Jack Walsh to travel halfway around the world is just the start of Bernard's problems. Once they arrive in ``paradise,'' events conspire to postpone the meeting in which brother and sister will confront some long-suppressed family secrets. Bernard's personal journey--his loss of virginity, and his leap forward in self- confidence--is all the more enjoyable because Lodge sets it against a larger profile of the fellow Brits who come to Hawaii on Bernard's charter. There's Russ Harvey, a yuppie honeymooner, and his Ice Maiden wife, whose vacation is spoiled from the start by a revelation at the wedding reception; there are a couple of elderly second honeymooners who record everything on video; there are the two spinster teachers in search of ``Someone Nice.'' And, of course, no Lodge novel would be complete without a pompous academic--in this case, an anthropology prof who specializes in tourism, which he is ``deconstructing'' on a grant from the British Association of Travel Agents. American litigiousness and health policy come in for some well-deserved mockery along the merry way. Narrative tricks aside, Lodge's Catholicism and his gimlet eye make him the true heir of Evelyn Waugh. -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (June 1, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140165215
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140165210
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.6 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #773,006 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
In Paradise News, David Lodge does something unusual. His main character is a forty-something virgin, sexually inhibited and celibate by force of habit. Perhaps more uncommon, Bernard is an honest man. He's even a somewhat boring, ordinary man, not particularly neurotic or troubled, and yet still cabable of growth over the course of the novel. More extraordinary still, Lodge gives us a sensible love story and sensible sex. How often do we see that? It makes a refreshing change. But for those who don't think an honest man with moral concerns getting a sensible--if much overdue--introduction to sex and falling in love in a sensible way doesn't sound interesting, think again. Lodge is always worth reading. He entertains (funny situations; the wish fulfillment story of how Bernard's aunt ends the book better off than she started it) and he provokes thought (among other things, vacationing as the modern-day pilgrimage, a pursuit of paradise).
The only strikes against this book are that it starts off a bit slow, focusing at first on characters you know will be minor. It picks up speed quickly enough, but the minor characters are perhaps not all they could be--a small concern really, when they are better than many writers would have managed. And the incest theme lacks punch. It may be a sad commentary on the cynicism and jaded sensibilities of my generation when one of us can say, "Ho hum, incest again", but that's the way it is. The incest serves its purpose in the novel, but that whole subplot just wasn't as interesting as the larger story of Bernard's renewal. And as that IS intersting, Paradise News is well worth reading.
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Format: Hardcover
_Paradise News_ concerns Bernard Walsh, a defrocked Anglo-Catholic priest who is teaching theology half-time at a depressing college in a depressing English town. His aunt contacts him from Hawaii with the news that she is dying, and that she would like him to convince his father (her brother) to visit her, at her expense, for one last time. They have not met since the '50s, for insufficiently explained reasons, though the scandal over Aunt Ursula first marrying, then divorcing, an American serviceman might have something to do with it.
Bernard's father is a disagreeable old man who is afraid of flying, but somehow, with the unexpected help of Bernard's scheming sister Tess, who is afraid of losing Ursula's fabled inheritance, he is convinced to go. Bernard lucks into a last-minute cancellation of a tourist package, getting the two of them a cheap flight, and more to the point of the book, allowing Lodge to portray a wide variety of English tourists, to a variety of comic effect. Some of the thematic center of the book is provided by an academic, an anthropologist of tourism, who has various cockeyed theories about the ritualistic place of tourism in human life, and who is much taken with the repeated motif of "Paradise" in the names of Hawaiian tourist traps. The other thematic center, of course, revolves around Bernard's own loss of faith, and the stories of his rigid Catholic upbringing, his seminary training, his years teaching, and his brief time as a parish priest.
In Hawaii, Bernard's father is almost immediately run down by a car. So Bernard's time is taken up with dealing with his father's hospitalization, and then with Aunt Ursula's situation, partly in a shabby nursing house, partly in hospital.
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I loved the Lodge of Changing Places, a truly hilarious work, and good enough to suggest that Tom Stoppard's marvelous play, Arcadia, could be derived from it. I think it is Changing Places that I mean. But I was disappointed in Paradise News. I have been reading Graham Greene , and Lodge was a bit of a comedown, with prose that was much less confident and somehow less fine. The comedy in Paradise News is no match for the hilarity of Greene's Our Man in Havana, and Lodge's Catholicism is a bore where Greene's can be haunting and beautiful. Sex that Greene would handle delicately can be cringe-inducing in Paradise News. The "ship of fools" device gives us side characters in the hero's tour group, but few of them are developed well or have anything to do with the plot. The mechanical use of them as each notices the hero's dad's ambulance has scant relevance to the story. The minutiae of arrangements, travel, money, hospitals, cars, apartments, fills every plodding page. In short, Paradise News has a pot-boiler quality. It is easy to put down. Lodge lays on some heavy-handed parallelism between the commercialized Paradise of Honolulu and the Paradise the major religions promise in the hereafter, but the reader gets little enjoyment out of it. The best feature of the book may well be the experiences it provides of a Brit learning about America and Americanisms in one of America's commercialized playgrounds. Lodge is refreshingly genial about us, almost as if he is trying to avoid offense to his American readers (something Greene too often fails to do). I see that everyone reviewing the book gives it four or five stars, but I can't give it more than three.
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