Title: The Last Paradise
Author: Di Morrissey
Published: October 24th 2019
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary
Rating: 4 stars
In the ashes of her marriage, she finds the truth about his past and the courage to start again in . . . The Last Paradise.
Grace has the perfect life: a job she loves, a beautiful daughter and a rich, successful husband. But one night, when their world falls apart in a shocking disaster, Grace suddenly sees what she couldn’t admit – her marriage and her husband are a fraud.
With the life she knew in tatters, she takes an assignment promoting the launch of a unique luxury hotel, hidden in a stunning, untouched oasis in the heart of tourist-crazed Bali.
Here, in this last paradise, Grace gathers the strength to take charge of her world. And, inspired by a woman’s story from long ago, she discovers a path to a future she’d never dared to imagine . . .
‘Grace suddenly smiled – you never knew what you could do until you were tested, or where life might take you.’
Australia’s favourite storyteller is back with her annual release, just in time for Christmas. The Last Paradise marks Di Morrissey’s twenty seventh published novel, which is a fabulous achievement. This latest release is a tribute to and a rich examination into tourism, our love for Bali as a holiday destination and marriage breakdown. The Last Paradise also delicately intertwines the history of a female pioneer of Bali, K’tut Tantri, who forged a new life in this tropical paradise, following her exit from Hollywood in the 1930s.
At the heart of The Last Paradise, is the not so perfect marriage of Grace and her husband Lawrence. When a tragic event occurs to this family, ugly secrets come to the surface, revealing a litany of lies and underhanded dealings. Grace must summon all the strength and courage she can to create a new life for herself. Grace’s changed situation sees her accept a work assignment abroad, in the tropical idyll of Bali. In Bali, Grace is charged with the promotion of a brand new luxurious hotel in the popular tourist hub. At the same time, Grace stumbles across the compelling story of a woman who made a big difference in this tropical paradise in the past. Inspired by the achievements of this formidable figure, Grace sees the world from a completely different set of eyes, giving her renewed strength and focus to tackle her problems, head on.
I consider myself a devoted fan of Di Morrissey’s work. I was recently overjoyed to discover that my favourite book of her impressive collection of books will soon be made into a television series. In the meantime, I was pleased to receive her new book, The Last Paradise for review. It was nice to follow a story set in a location offshore. However, this setting focus is not unfamiliar to me at all, I have made four trips to Bali over a fifteen year period, so I have a connection to Bali. Di Morrissey places a different lens on a country I thought I knew quite well until I read The Last Paradise.
The central focus of this story is on the lead character of Grace. We follow her life journey, marriage crisis, the efforts Grace makes to gain the upper hand over her narcissistic husband and her determination to forge a new life for herself. A tragic event is the much needed catalyst that sparks great change in Grace’s life. It is a heartbreaking situation and my thoughts went out to poor Grace, it made for an emotional read. Grace is dealt with further problems when she discovers that her husband is not the man she thinks he is. When the truth surfaces it cuts deep. However, Grace rises above it all with a determined plan. I enjoyed spending time with Grace as she took charge of her life and made plenty of changes for the better.
Grace’s story and travels to Bali to promote a new luxury hotel development in this tropical paradise opens up a myriad of issues. Morrissey takes an educative and critical view in these sequences, opening our eyes up to big business, tourism, the impact on traditional culture and development. Morrissey offsets this storyline with a glimpse into the world of a woman, a founding figure in Bali, who arrived at this exotic locale in the 1930s, exiting her career in Hollywood for a simpler life. Interspersed between the narrative and Grace’s metamorphosis are excerpts of K’tut Tantri’s life. This makes for a fascinating read, with aspects of this amazing woman’s full life echoing aspects of Grace’s experiences in Bali.
Di Morrissey is an author known and respected for her flawless ability to capture the location base of each and every book she releases. Although I have visited Bali a good handful of times, I was impressed many times over by Morrissey’s strong depiction of this familiar location. In particular, Morrissey is able to capture the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and overall feel for this destination. I felt like I was right back there, just through the simple turn of the page!
The format of the book deserves a mention. The Last Paradise is published in hardback format. It features a stunning tropical feel cover, with a typical Balinese style temple in the background. It did take my breath away. Inside the cover, a beautiful piece of batik style artwork adorns the front and the back, reminding the audience of the talented artwork of the Balinese people. Finally, a photograph of various Australian and Balinese locations precedes each chapter of the book – immersing the reader further in the settings featured in the novel.
The Last Paradise is a rousing tribute to Bali, placing emphasis on the past, the present and the future of this country, with particular focus on tourism. This book also ties in the compelling story of one woman’s brave journey to take charge of her own destiny. The Last Paradise will both enthrall and inspire readers.
The Last Paradise by Di Morrissey was published on 24th October 2019 by Pan Macmillan. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of The Last Paradise, Di Morrissey, visit here.
*I wish to thank Pan Macmillan for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.
The Last Paradise is book #134 of the 2019 Australian Women Writers Challenge