MIRANDA BAY by Susan Tarr
Well, what a book! From start to finish, reeling with every twist and turn, the reader never knows how Miranda Poole’s day to day running of her ‘resort’ is going to end, for her or her guests (poor fools)! Resort-savvy guests wisely leave very quickly without so much as a backward glance after taking one look at the ramshackle ex-sanatorium Miranda has invested her life savings in.
I love author Susan Tarr’s characterisations. She obviously has an in-depth knowledge of what makes people tick in any given situation, without being over emotive or too over the top to be believable. In other words, the author has a genuine understanding of the width and breadth of human nature.
I particularly relished New Zealand flavours throughout the saga: Auckland’s Queen Street, Pohutukawa trees, sandy beaches, and flax stands to name but a few. They paint a vibrant background canvas for characters like Neville Sykes, Jack the wavering priest, Hamilton Sofbotham, the colourful staff, all who conspire to make Miranda’s venture more like a roller coaster ride than a prime of life experience. And then there are the paying guests. Enough said!
Miranda’s binge drinking increases as her debts pile up. But everything is exasperated by Hamilton’s obsession with her and his constant demeaning of her ability to run the resort. Depression causes her to withdraw suppressing her once bubbly personality. Her cousin and best friend, Pansy Poole, gradually takes over most of the management of guests and staff. Unfortunately, easy going Pansy is fast losing patience with her cousin, and their friendship is being thoroughly tested. Both miss romance, cafés and the excitement of Auckland city.
I won’t give away the ending, but I will say that it surprised me. As the story progresses, I was beginning to think Miranda’s quickening downward spiral was going to take her to the nearest psychiatric ward, never mind dilapidated sanatorium!
What a fabulous Peter Jackson movie this fabulous book could be made into…
By the way, I wouldn’t class this as a Chick Lit novel, it’s way too smart and knowing for that (sorry chick lit fans). To my mind it’s more of a 30-something’s catapult into maturity.