Genre: Contemporary fiction
Description: Mark arrives in Belize, and almost at once becomes a catalyst for change among a love triangle of ex-pats already in country.
Belize is a big part of this book, to the extent one feels it could not have been set anywhere else. Only a flawed paradise like this could enable the way of life of enjoyed by Kendal, Aaron and Charlie. When Mark blows in on a permanent bender, bringing with him a whiff of the real world, he precipitates an unravelling of the way of life the three other ex-pats have evolved together over a decade.
Author: Schwartz’s publicity tells us, “Karen Winters Schwartz’s professional writing career began in 2010, when the first of three widely praised novels, Where Are the Cocoa Puffs?, Reis’s Pieces, and The Chocolate Debacle were issued by Goodman Beck Publishing. Red Adept Publishing released Legend of the Lost Ass in 2020, and her latest novel The Vast Clear Blue in January 2023. Both these last are richly emotional stories about love and relationships and take place in the exotic setting of Belize.
Schwartz now splits her time between Arizona USA, a small village in Belize, and traveling the world “in search of the many creatures with whom she has the honor of sharing this world”.
Author website: http://www.karenwintersschwartz.com/”
Appraisal: The beautiful setting is rendered in some detail (but not so much as to waylay pace) and great affection. It is a place the author knows well. Her previous book was set there too.
The characters are attractively realised through what they say and do, and an occasional internal monologue. Their lives are slow and simple: and yet much happens. They are special, unique, people: and yet they are just like everyone else. I felt that an amalgam of the four of them (including the beer sodden Mark) would together make the ideal person one would like to be (although I wouldn’t want Mark’s liver). There is such warmth, loving, depth of understanding, caring and encouragement going on here. There is no sense of angst, rivalry, or jealousy such as underpins most relationships. Could such an emotional paradise ever actually exist? Even in a geographical paradise like this? Well, there is always the snake, in any Eden.
The action of the book is like the careful placing of jigsaw puzzle pieces. The construction is very skilful, and the finished picture has been a very satisfying read.
This would, indeed, be a 5* book for me, except for the Author’s Note which ends each chapter. I found the intrusion of the author in this way threw me out of the book every time. I had to read them (on your behalf) and could not understand why the author felt a need to include any of them, or why her publisher let her. The book, as is, is novella length, so perhaps it was decided to extend it to its current length through this ploy.
Fortunately for you, you don’t have to contend with the Author’s Notes: you can skip right over them and enjoy a cracking novel. And I recommend you do.
Plenty of F-bombs (as the Americans say) if you like to be warned about that sort of thing.
**This review was originally prepared for Big Al & Pals: received a complimentary book file in exchange for an honest review.**