Escapees of all stripes wash up on a remote South Pacific atoll.
If your chef husband’s dreams of a new LA fusion restaurant have fallen apart, thanks to a spendthrift partner, and creditors are about to seize your bank account, painstakingly saved over a decade of slaving in a soulless law firm, what would you do? Withdrawing the cash and hopping the first plane to Tahiti is only the start for Ann, the lawyer, and Richard, the chef. Once at a private island resort with no electricity or Internet (which still costs an alarmingly high price), the couple has to contend with their fellow vacationers and the island’s staff. The former include fellow Angelenos Dex, an aging, much-married rock star, and his 20-something “muse,” Wende. The latter include Tahitians Titi, the cook and housekeeper; her betrothed, all-around handyman and diving coach Cooked; and the manager and island’s owner, Loren, a Frenchman who harbors a dreadful secret about the fate of his daughters after he abandoned their mother to an abusive second marriage. This is a promising setup, but Soli’s insistence on granting equal voice to every one of these characters results in narrative chaos; Richard and Ann’s predicament is dropped as they're caught up in the dramas of these chance acquaintances. Ann’s compassion for Loren grows after a few absinthe-soaked afternoons, although she considers his installation of a webcam on the island a betrayal. After contemplating just how many hours of each day go into maintaining her hotness, Wende embraces the revolutionary zeal of Cooked, who wants to expose the horrible toll exacted on the South Pacific by nuclear testing. Jealous, Titi sulks, and Richard takes over the kitchen, learning that food is his primary passion—but we knew that. As progressively less plausible crises proliferate, some very real sharks get jumped.
Aside from the exotic setting, Soli’s idiosyncratic prose style is the main attraction here.