Picks and Pans Review: Trouble in Paradise

updated 11/05/2007 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/05/2007 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Margaret Cezair-Thompson |

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In 1946, Errol Flynn actually did run aground on Jamaica's coast in his hurricane-ravaged yacht. Seeking shelter from a stateside scandal involving an underage girl, the swashbuckling matinee idol settled in, building a grand pink-and-white villa where he hosted parties for the Hollywood A-list. From those scraps of historical truth, Cezair-Thompson has spun a book-club-ready saga with two gorgeous women at its center—Ida, a light-skinned local girl who has a tryst with Flynn, and May, the daughter of that brief union. Flynn never acknowledges paternity, leaving Ida and May to forge a place for themselves in a land where they belong to neither the wealthy class of expatriates, nor the emerging black majority. Paradise itself is undergoing a transformation, as Jamaicans throw off their British rulers in a messy, violent march toward independent rule. The narrative meanders a bit with forays into sex and drugs and Rasta music, but readers who stay the course are rewarded with a knockout ending that reveals treasure buried beneath sand-encrusted secrets.

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