Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Paradise News

By David Lodge

Bernard's aunt is dying and she wants to see her brother before she dies. The aunt, Ursula, lives in Hawaii and Bernard and his father, Jack, live in Britain. Jack, who is rather frail, is not eager to undertake such a long trip. In fact, he has never flown on an airplane before and is rather alarmed by the whole idea. However, the thought that the estranged sister has money does much to reconcile Jack's family to the idea.
Bernard is a part time teacher and he has the time to escort his dad on the long trip. Bernard is a bit of a black sheep as is Ursula. Ursula married against the advice of the family. Bernard is an ex-priest who lost his faith and is regarded as a failure by the family.
Bernard bought a package tour for himself and his dad because it was the cheapest travel option and they end up traveling with a small group of their fellow Brits whose activities form a sort of backdrop to Bernard's story.
Arriving in Hawaii, not even there for one full day, Jack, used to British traffic patterns, steps in front of a car and gets hit. He is not gravely injured, but his hip is broken and he will be stuck in the hospital for quite a while. Meanwhile Ursula has taken a turn for the worse and she is also confined to her bed.  The reunion is delayed for the time being.
With his dad and his aunt in the hospital, Bernard is left to his own devices and he gets to know the woman who knocked his dad down with her car, Yolande. Yolande is at a turning point in her life. Her husband has left her for another woman (younger, of course) and Yolande is fighting the divorce, mostly because she is angry. She is attracted to Bernard and escorts him to some of the local tourist attractions. They end up in a relationship and she helps him with some of his personal problems.
Jack and Ursula eventually get to meet at Jack's hospital and they confront some issues and misunderstandings from their childhood and both find comfort in the reconciliation.
Soon Jack is well enough to travel home and they leave the islands behind, with hope for the future.

This was an entertaining story. Bernard is a good guy and the story ends very nicely.  And it is nicely amusing too, not hilarious, but just sweetly, mildly amusing.

For another review, see https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/david-lodge/paradise-news/.

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