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The Road To Paradise Island (1986)

The Road to Paradise Island (1986)
3.83 of 5 Votes: 4
0449208885 (ISBN13: 9780449208885)
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The Road To Paradise Island (1986)
The Road To Paradise Island (1986)

About book: You can read more of my reviews faster at my blog, The Armchair Librarian.THE ROAD TO PARADISE ISLAND had so much going for it. So much. With some more editing, and maybe about 50-100 cut pages, it could have been a wonderful book. But it wasn't, so it isn't, and that is a terrible thing.I generally like Victoria Holt's writing. I haven't read any books under her other handles — namely Jean Plaidy or Philippa Carr — but I really like the books of hers I have read. She's like a trashier Mary Stewart, with a flair for sheer sensational drama. I especially liked ON THE NIGHT OF THE SEVENTH MOON with its Labyrinth-like undertones, and THE INDIA FAN, which is clearly written as an homage to Jane Eyre, one of my all time favorite books ever. I was predisposed to enjoy THE ROAD TO PARADISE, and was really disappointed and unhappy that I didn't.It starts out promisingly enough. Annalice and Philip Mallory are two children living in a small English town. It is the town their ancestors lived in and riddled with relics and History (capital 'H' intended) from their explorer/cartographer ancestors.As is typical of these quintessentially Gothic novels, Annalice and Philip are essentially orphans. The mother died in childbirth with Annalice and the father, unable to deal with the pain, left the family map-making trade to go to Holland and pop out Aryan Dutch babies with his babe wife. For a while, the maternal and paternal grandmothers duke it out over custody, but the paternal grandmother wins and then the maternal grandmother does everyone the favor of dying anyway, so win/win.One day an electric storm damages part of the house. When the local contractor comes to investigate the damage the family discovers a secret room, walled up almost a century ago. Obviously, this is any child's dream-come-true, and Annalice pesters all the adults until they let her go inside and have a look-around. Her snooping turns up a map and a secret journal. The secret journal, to her delight, is written by an Ann Alice Mallory, the girl who almost shares her name, and whose untended tombstone Annalice found half-hidden in the cemetery behind a clump of conveniently placed weeds.Does this mean that we, the readers, get to read this journal right along with Annalice? Oh yes. What are you doing? Stop wincing and backing away — this is one of the best motherfucking parts of the book. Oh. My. God. It is so amazing. Ann Alice comes to life on the pages. In some ways, her life parallels that of Annalice, but it's so much more vivid. It's like that scene in the Wizard of Oz, where everything goes from black and white to full-on melt-your-eyeballs technicolor.Ann Alice is on the cusp of womanhood and losing her old, beloved governess. She gets a new governess, the icy cold Miss Gilmour, who her father likes from the get-go. In fact, her father ends up marrying the new governess. Ann Alice is annoyed because she misses her old companion, she's jealous that her father pays more attention to his new wife than he ever did for her, and because the introduction of Miss Gilmour into the household means being forced into the company of Miss Gilmour's sinister companion and possible paramour, Desmond Featherstone and his wanderin' hands. Ann Alice is so witty and clever and a total delight to read. The way she rebuffs Mr. Featherstone's advances reminds me of Catherine from CATHERINE, CALLED BIRDY. Ann Alice ends up falling in love with another man who is respectful of personal boundaries. He also comes from a family of mapmakers and tells her about a secret island he washed up upon after being shipwrecked in a storm. An island covered in gold, and happy black people who were all too eager to praise his pale skin, hair, and eyes, and serve him and give him their gold. Hooray for white-washing! He wants Ann Alice to go with him there after they get married. But then Ann Alice's father dies mysteriously and her new stepmother and Mr. Featherstone might have other plans....What Annalice finds in the journal sends her brother off searching for the magical gold island and has dramatic impact on her own personal life when she discovers that her own fiance is the descendent of Desmond Featherstone. Annalice postpones her engagement to Desmond — oops, I mean Raymond — and goes on a ship headed for the Australian Outbacks, both because she wants to find her brother who still hasn't returned and because she wants to solve the mystery of her ancestor.The next two hundred pages are riiiiiiiidiiiiiculously slooooooooooooooow.A lot of these pages are just banter between the h and her shiny new love interest. The descriptions of the ship's passages take as long as an actual ship's passage, and oh my God, it is so boring. After they get off the ship, there's a sledgehammer of plot that's totally at odds with the paperthin pretext for narrative that occurred before. Romantic developments with the new love interest. Sinister fiances. Two rape attempts. Brandishing of a firearm. Murder. More murder. The secrets of the magical gold island. Blah blah blah. Typical stall the villain routine by having him/her reveal their plans at the last moment in great detail to properly showcase their genius. Boom — friends and family miraculously turn up, all of them at once, in the nick of time to save the stupid h from her own stupidity.Everyone lives happily ever after, and God save the Queen!Maybe the next one will be better.1 star.

I hate to say it, but I'm not as enthusiastic about The Road to Paradise Island as I was The Demon Lover. Maybe that’s because they are kind of similar. I usually try to space my VH books out to only once a year so I won’t start comparing. But this was a group read so I jumped right in. Anyway, this book starts out well. I was drawn into the mystery of Ann Alice, and I found her diary suspenseful, especially since it appeared that she met a grim fate. One of my problems though, is right after this mystery is introduced, the detective, Annalice, seems to quit searching. All clues came to a screeching halt. It’d be like Hercule Poirot saying, “Yes Hastings, I haven’t solved a damn thing, but I’m going to go do something completely different for a while.” I was very frustrated, and what’s worse, this happens for two hundred pages. GrrrrI’m not a mystery fan to begin with. I’m very impatient. So to put the mystery on hold like that drove me bonkers, and it made me feel like everything else in between was gratuitous. That’s not to say the filler wasn’t entertaining. Yes Milton was charming and his romance with Annalice was fun. And yes, I rather enjoyed the WTF chapter with the lecherous, alcoholic bridegroom. LOLBut always in the back of my mind was the thought, when are we going to get back to the mystery? And then when we did get back to it, at the very end, it felt rushed. Consequently I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I have other VH novels. On a side note, I have to say the social strata of the islands made me cringe. All the sugar cane plantation owners are white and European, while all the islanders are workers. I’m sure Victoria Holt was just writing the way things were, but that kind of stuff always bothers me. Don’t give me that crap that the plantation was a big blessing to the island. I’m sure the natives were plenty happy on their island with an abundance of fish and fruit, before entrepreneurs came in and bulldozed their way in. On a whole though, The Road to Paradise Island has some nice surprises and as always, I think VH writes well. I’m giving three stars.This was a buddy read with with Hannah, Misfit, Jeannette, and Julzo4,
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Something was different about this work from Victoria Holt . I was surprised that there were so many words misused, like "besottedly" for example. The book was edited poorly. The story maintained its suspense but the wording was very repetitive; on every other page there was a phrase that had already been used, it made the book easier and quicker to read but nothing was really written in depth about characters. The plot itself was good. I really like the idea of the walled up room and the journal. Holt is great with using a minimal amount of words to provide great descriptions of surroundings. I'm not a huge fan of Victoria Holt's sea novels but this one wasn't too bad.
January 2013 Buddy Read with Hannah, Willowfaerie, Julzo4 and Jeannette. Plus a nod to my #1 buddy reading pal for hanging out with me on the last few chapters:But I used to wonder about that spot in the corridor. I would go up there after dark and I was sure I felt a sensation-a little frission...something.A hidden room. A journal. A mysterious death. A map to an uncharted island the South Pacific with gold ripe for the picking. Annalice Mallory finds the clues, and her brother goes off in search for the island, never to be heard from again, and then Annalice must follow and find out what happened to her brother.This book started out with a bang with the hidden room and the journal, but things really bogged down in the middle when it took too long for Annalice and troops to get to where they needed to be to solve the puzzle. I enjoyed the twists at the end, but like others have mentioned it came on a bit rushed. Like the author finally realized she was dragging things out, hit the required page count and needed to wrap up and wind it down. A pleasant book for a rainy afternoon, but not Holt's best.
M.J. Bryson
This was the first book I read from Victoria Holt and it mesmerized me from the first page! All her books take place in Gothic Victorian times. Every story is full of intrigue, mystery, danger, tragedy, and romance (not "Romance Novel" romance but an-attraction-that-may-lead-to-love-or-death kind of romance- depending on who the heroine puts her trust in). In "The Road to Paradise Island", the heroine is Annalice (named after her ancestress Ann Alice). After a storm damages part of her family's ancestral estate, a secret room is discovered. It turns out to be that of Ann Alice and is filled with her journals and a map that leads to a secret paradise island. Annalice's brother, Philip, sets sail to find the island and the treasures that are promised to be buried there. When he disappears, Annalice defies convention and sails to Australia (his last known location) to find him. There she finds more danger than treasure and must decide whom to trust in order to find the truth. I don't want to add any spoilers- so that is pretty much all I can say without giving anything away! This book was amazing- the plot is so intricate and vivid- the characters fascinate and you will not be able to put it down! I read it at the age of 14 and again in my 20's and again in my 30's- it never loses it's edge or power as a story!
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