A Trip to the Beach: Living on Island Time in the Caribbean

A Trip to the Beach: Living on Island Time in the Caribbean - Melinda Blanchard;Robert Blanchard This is the memoir of a Vermont couple who moved to the tiny Caribbean island of Anguilla and poured their heart and sweat--and life savings--into creating a world class restaurant there. It was recommended in the Travel Section of The Ultimate Reading List that had provided me with reading for years--and this is the penultimate book left. On that list travel memoirs seemed to split into two kinds: tales of tourists, such as with Bill Bryson's In a Sunburned Country or expatriates, such as Frances Mayes' Under the Tuscan Sun or Charles Stewart's Driving Over Lemons. A Trip to the Beach falls into the second category. It's not the sybaritic, sensuous experience delivered by Mayes book, which dealt with an Italian villa and was written in lyrical prose. Like Mayes, Blanchard included recipes and they share a love of fine food. However, as much as Blanchard might wax poetically when writing of "sand that might have been poured from a sack of sugar" and azure skies and "water so warm it's swimming in a bathtub" no one would call her style literary. At first, in fact, the book seemed routine to me, and I thought I might abandon it after trying 100 pages, but it grew on me. The Blanchards weren't as engaging in personality as Charles Stewart or as good as conveying a sense of the country and personalities around them. The book certainly wasn't as funny as Bryson's nor as wise and insightful as the best of the books on the list. I can't quite give this a four, since it's not the kind of book I can ever imagine rereading or urging on a friend, but I thoroughly enjoyed it in the end. I think for me what did stand out for me, what I found most absorbing, were the challenges of building a business--from dealing with officious customs agents and obnoxious customers to the disastrous Category Four Hurricane Luis. (Also, I really want to try that recipe for Banana Bread.)