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When Tom Finn is almost jailed for confronting two burglars in his own home, this taxi driver takes his young family to live on the tropical island of Phuket, Thailand.
Phuket is all the Finn family dreamed of - a tropical paradise where the children swim with elephants, the gibbons sing love songs in the jungle, the Andaman Sea is like turquoise glass and this young family is free to grow.
But both man-made disaster and the unleashed forces of nature shatter the tropical idyll of Tom Finn's family.
CATCHING THE SUN is a gripping, moving story of a family who go in search of Paradise - and discover themselves.
Well I would definitely recommend this as a must read on your next beach holiday - especially in case you are thinking of missing the plane home - and a good novel to peruse if you are harbouring a desire to up and move your family to an idyllic tropical location. Tony Parsons captures perfectly some of the issues that face a family who move to an idyllic holiday spot as opposed to a week long holiday in paradise. Catching The Sun is a very enjoyable read.
Set around the time of the now infamous Boxing Day tsunami of 2004 Tony Parsons explores the complexities that Tom Finn (and more in the background his family) face when they move from England to Thailand to escape a life there that has become all too unpleasant. The story unfolds slowly from Tom Finns perspective. I would have liked more character development in the progression of the novel of his wife Tess and their two children, Keeva and Rory, but suspect that this was not crucial to the story Parson's was writing. Tess is the strong, capable and very patient wife who always has a smile and with whom Tom is besotted and Rory, his son, the miniature David Attenborough whom Parsons uses to get across his message about the damage to the environment and animals by local and tourists alike. It almost felt like Rory's only role in the story was to deliver these messages.
The plot covers so many themes that It felt like Parsons was checking through a list to make sure he had covered every point he wanted to make even when it wasn't too clear how certain characters had followed the paths they took in such a short time. I don't want to give examples as it will ruin the story (which I think is brilliant) however the addition of a bit more attention to some of the secondary characters in the story would have enhanced this book for me no end. Parsons has however, quite rightly, highlighted a lot of the negatives of the tourist trade in not just Thailand but other Asian countries and that as a Westerner living there it is never going to be as easy as just having a holiday. I felt he covered too many themes at the expense of character development but these themes were vital to the story he is telling.
I can see this book very easily being translated into a screenplay so won't be surprised if I see it playing at a theatre in the very near future!
I was surprised by the ending as I had expected after everything the family go through in their year in Phuket that the decision they made would be the least likely to be made, by Tess especially. Overall though I enjoyed this book and it is one that will find a spot on my bookcase for a re-read in the future. Recommended!
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"It is a curious thing... that every creed promises a paradise which will be absolutely uninhabitable for anyone of civilized taste."
Evelyn Waugh (1903 - 1966)