I have loved Marcel Theroux’s books, enjoyed watching Lois Theroux on television and so have always been curious about books written by their father, Paul. Paul Theroux is the most famous of the three, so it is strange that he is the last one I have discovered, but now that I have, I will be keeping an eye out for as many of his books as possible.
I have always been intrigued by Mosquito Coast, but for some reason assumed it would be a dark thriller involving machetes, cannibals and malarial fever. I have no idea why I thought that, because it turns out that none of those are present in the book. I was surprised at how literary it was, having more in common with The Poisonwood Bible than any action film.
Mosquito Coast tells the story of a family who move from America to the jungles of Honduras. The father is an eccentric inventor, who is convinced that his family would benefit from leaving civilisation and becoming self sufficient. He has a bizarre plan that involves trading ice with the Hondurans.
I loved the first half of the book; the descriptions of their move into the jungle were perfect – atmospheric, emotional and realistic. I was convinced that the book was going to become one of my all time favourites, but unfortunately the second half of the book wasn’t as good. It lost the plot – literary! The father’s eccentricity became the focus of the story and I thought the book lost a lot of the magic. It was still a fantastically written book, but it was just a bit too weird for me.
There were many thought provoking observations about our society:
It is amazing how relevant the book is to life today, considering that it was written almost 30 years ago. It must have been ground-breaking back then, but even now the messages about the fragility of society and our desire to conform to the norm are relevant.
Recommended to lovers of literary fiction.
Have you read Mosquito Coast?
Which Paul Theroux book should I read next?