Thursday, December 31, 2015
PARADISE CITY by Elizabeth Day
This is my first book by award-winning British journalist Elizabeth Day, and I can assure you it won't be the last. With Paradise City she tells us the stories of four very different people in alternating segments, which also reveal the life of a city - a grubby and glamorous London today where anything is possible.
The characters Day has chosen could not be more different in age and social position. The narrative is divided between Howard Pink, a self-made millionaire who while possessing all the accouterments of wealth and power knows that if he were truly revealed one would see a lost little boy, Carol Hetherington, an unassuming woman recently widowed, Esme Reade, a young journalist with a crush on her editor who comes to question her assignments, and Beatrice Kizza, a Ugandan asylum seeker.
As Day is also a journalist her description of the workings of a newspaper office are spot on - the pressure for stories, rivalries and vying for headlines. Perhaps the most affecting character is Beatrice, a young woman who suffered horribly in her former country and now works as a hotel maid. She believes she can do better than that, but how? Her back story is particularly moving, and when she is assaulted by a man her response will surprise all.
Day's take on Howard Pink alone is worth the price of the book - his love of luxurious hotels, his taste for bespoke clothing, his love of women are all beautifully painted bringing forth smiles or pangs of pity.
How these lives intersect is intriguing and well told. For this reader Day does have a tendency to over explain at times which slowed the story line. That aside Paradise City is a humdinger!