A you-gotta-hand-it-to-'em story of building a new life and business in a foreign land that sinks in a quicksand of logorrhea.
Ever the entrepreneurs, the Blanchards sold their Vermont-based gourmet food business and poured the profits into a seaside restaurant on the sleepy but celebrity-strewn Caribbean island of Anguilla. As narrated by Melinda Blanchard, the story is launched with an unfortunate number of clichés ("As our taxi made its way westward, I counted the ways I loved this island") that gratefully subside, only to be replaced by writing that replicates the thought process enough to throw sand into even the most devout friend's eyes: "It's just too formal. Pretty but stiff. People come to this island to relax. I don't want our dining room to be hushed and uncomfortable. Guests need to feel more like they're at our house for dinner, rather than at a stuffy restaurant. Elegance, but no attitude." There are the standard bothers—“island time," customs agents, the unavailability of ingredients, the cistern running dry, and paying $215 to replace a $3 part—but Blanchard reminds readers often enough that "I felt unaccountably happy" and "I felt preposterously lucky." Comments, such as "This reminds me of that little restaurant in Nice" or "Bob suddenly remembered an East Hampton wedding we had attended at a magnificent beach house," fall like bricks; then Blanchard scrambles for some balance: "Bob was honored to be sharing fish soup with these men" (read: humble though they may be). Ultimately, the story settles down to one kitchen tale after another, some more amusing than others, although they begin to fade into each other after a while.
Too long by half, and then again so. There are simply too many minor annoyances here, and not enough variety to fuel the Blanchards' story and keep readers' interest turning over.