An ambitious young man struggles to define himself and his future in a Caribbean nation plunged into violent revolution. Having spent his childhood trapped in the slums of a politically volatile Caribbean island, Alexandre dreams of escape. Within only a few years, he rises from being a valet for an important politician to becoming a caretaker for a derelict estate purchased by a wealthy foreign businesswoman. While the rest of the country copes with the rise of a brutal dictator, Alexandre flees to his new home in the remote mountains outside the capital. There he oversees the restoration of a manor house and gardens that evoke for him an innocent, unspoiled past. When his new employer sees a chance to turn the estate into something more—a decadent, jet-setting resort—Alexandre views the undertaking as the culmination of his dreams. Eager to lose himself in the creation of this opulent Eden, Alexandre severs the last links to his unhappy past, including his family and friends. But as the outside world starts to crumble around him, Alexandre must face the limits of the utopia he has created. Soon he is trapped in the middle of a war he has tried to ignore, and discovers he will have to choose between preserving the estate he loves and protecting the people he has spent his life trying to escape.I had a hard time relating to the main character in this book. It was interesting to read about how the main house and the property was fixed up. Not to give away too much, but parts of this book reminded me more of how occupied France has been described during WWII than descriptions of presidential revolutions.
There was an intriguing plot theme focusing on the wealthy/celebrities wanting to escape their daily life and be isolated in a resort environment. On the flip side, the plot theme of highlighting the locals wanting to not live in poverty and forgetting about the old neighborhood. In a way both groups were wanting to reinvent themselves in different ways.
This book wasn't my favorite, but with revolutions in the Middle East in the news this book does provide another perspective on life during a revolution.
Here are two articles to read more about this book - interview of Christopher Herbert at Chapter 16 and Christopher's own essay which inspired this story.