Romance & Memory Loss… aka What I Read on Vacation

One of my favorite things about being on vacation is being able to read.  I have a hard time finding the time (or staying awake long enough) to do this at home, so it’s a real treat to be able to polish off a couple of books while away.  I’m a pretty strict non-fiction reader (biographies, travel memoirs, history) but this past week on our Carnival cruise, I mixed it up a bit and went mainstream fiction for one and mushy romantic (although it is a true story) for the other.  I really enjoyed both, so I’m sharing…

20151108_174931 (1) (2)“Seven Letters from Paris” is part travel, part love story & amazingly, real life.  Samantha meets Jean-Luc while traveling thru Europe with a friend at the age of 19.  An intense 24 hours follows… beginning in a touristy cafe, traversing across Paris & ending on the platform of the train station.  Sam continues her trip but upon her return home, is greeted with the 1st of 7 letters from Jean-Luc, the classic French romantic, proclaiming his adoration for her.  The letters continue but Sam never replies, not even knowing what to say to someone who she can see no future with.

Fast forward 20 years… frustrated by her career & struggling with a failing marriage, Sam takes a leap of faith.  She decides to leave her husband & heads to the West Coast to straighten out her life.  While going thru her things, she comes across Jean-Luc’s letters, and with the help of the internet, decides to finally send him a reply.

Passion & chemistry have a way of holding on, and though their lives have taken various twists & turns, what they shared in Paris is easily reignited in this passionate true story. Old-fashioned romance, Jean-Luc’s actual letters & beautifully descriptive travel throughout France, make this a (guilty) pleasure to read.

whataliceforgotImagine waking up and having no memory from the previous 10 years of your life… That’s what happens to this mother of 3 in the fictional story, “What Alice Forgot” by Liane Moriarty.

Thinking she’s happily married and pregnant with her first child, Alice slowly discovers that’s not exactly the case after falling & hitting her head at the gym.  Her friends, family relationships & social status have all changed, and some not necessarily for the better.  It’s crazy to think that your “old self” may be the person you prefer and that the life you’ve created seems to have gotten completely out of hand.

The way the story unravels is well written and follows several interesting main characters through Alice’s journey.  Any mom with school-aged children will appreciate the flurry of car pools, activities and moody pre-teens that Alice has to reacquaint herself with, as well as the toll that can take on any marriage.  This was an interesting read that really makes you think about your own life and how if you could possibly do it over, if you would make the same decisions and choices.  This one was recommended to me by several of my friends and I’m glad I listened… well worth the dip into fiction.

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The Coconut

I’m currently reading an interesting book called, “Surviving Paradise,” about a young guy who teaches English for one year to the children of a very remote island in the Pacific. First discovered by the Spanish in 1529, “Ujae” is part of the Marshall Islands in Indonesia, and is barely a dot on the map, consisting of only 450 inhabitants.  The author, Peter Rudiak-Gould, tells his tale of life among the locals, with the tribulations of trying to fit in, learn the language and adapt to their fascinating, yet simple lifestyle.  While reading last night, I came across this passage, and was reminded of my favorite island treat…

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My own fresh coconut at the Melia Caribe Tropical in Punta Cana.

“Then there was the coconut. I would be remiss in my duties as a writer of tropical island literature if I did not take this opportunity to describe the perfection that is this fruit.  Leaving aside the other uses of the coconut tree – the fronds, the bark, the wood, and the seedlings, without which life on coral atolls might well be impossible – coconut juice is a remarkable beverage. It comes in its own container. It is just the right amount to wash down a meal. It opens obligingly, at a thin part of the shell called the “eye,” making a drinking channel of perfect size. The juice is sweet but not excessively so, and the slight fizz adds a kick. It is nature’s soft drink…”

A lot has been said about the benefits of the coconut recently.  You can read about it everywhere… the milk, the oil, the uses seem to be endless.  I even have a friend who created the most amazing body salt scrub made with organic coconut oil  – it’s fantastic! Check out her web site and order your own at www.aplantbasedlife.com.

I truly enjoy and appreciate this remarkable fruit.  However, I should also mention my obsession with the tree that it comes from: The Palm.  Seeing them in groves, hovering high in the air, puts my soul to rest.  A little crazy, I know.  But it usually also means that a gorgeous, tropical beach is right nearby.  😉

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Beach view at the Ocean Sand & Blue in Punta Cana.