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Published January 20th 2020
Where Historical and Modern Day Bali Meet
On the surface, The Last Paradise's lead character, Grace, has a life many would envy. As the Chief Creative Officer at an Advertising Company in Sydney, she lives comfortably with her image driven and albeit controlling entrepreneurial husband, is mother to a sweet young daughter Daisy, and has a beautiful, new, luxury home.
Photo courtesy Amazon
But her world is shattered when her home is mysteriously burnt down in an arson attack which unveils a web of lies by her narcissistic husband, Lawrence. Having been responsible for the family bank accounts, investments and insurance policies, he has also seized control of all of her personal and their joint assets.
She soon discovers that Lawrence's deceit includes keeping the insurance payout from the house fire, trying to sell her much loved Paddington flat (which she inherited from her grandmother) without her knowledge, having a false identity and even a secret family.
So, after undercovering part of the truth, she immediately decides to separate from Lawrence with a view to divorce and gain full custody of their daughter.
Amidst this turmoil, there is a glimmer of hope and happiness. Grace has the opportunity to pitch for an advertising campaign for a deluxe, new resort in Bali. This seems like the perfect way to gain some space and perspective on her problems and find personal and professional renewal for what will be a long and ugly separation before she can start of a new life.
Embedded within the novel is the real life sub story of K'Tut Tantri, who provides a source of inspiration for Grace. We come to understand that in 1932, K'Tut Tantri left the United States to start a new life in Bali where she spent the next fifteen years. She was drawn to Indonesia after seeing a film called Bali: The Last Paradise. She wanted to become an artist there and abandoned her life in suburban America.
Following the Second World War, Tantri was recruited into the Indonesian nationalist cause by rebels affiliated with the Indonesian guerrilla leader Bung Tomo. She became a radio broadcaster for the Voice of Free Indonesia.
This was my first read of the highly published Australian author, Di Morrisey. She moves the story along neatly and gives the story realism by reflecting life's modern personal and relationship issues like divorce, dishonesty and fraud. I felt like many readers may have met someone like Grace and Lawrence or been in a similar situation like her messy relationship.
Apart from Lawrence and her boss Spencer, many of the characters, however, have an element of unrealistic perfection – a primary school-age daughter who is never naughty or difficult (despite relocating home, moving schools, and losing all her toys and possessions), a mother who is always available for child minding, colleagues and clients, who think Grace is wonderful and endorse all her ideas.
The lushness of old Bali is a wonderful backdrop to the story which reminds us of the changes that have come from increased tourism and the yearning in some quarters that still remains for an authentic, Bali which was steeped in tradition rather characterised by alcohol-fuelled tourists behaving badly.
As expected The Last Paradise ends well and positively, like many of the experiences of its characters. The novel provides a nice, effortless literary escape into the beauty and history of Bali without needing a purchase a holiday airline ticket.
About Di Morrissey
Di Morrissey is one of the most successful and prolific authors Australia has ever produced. She trained as a journalist, working in newspapers, magazines, television, film, theatre and advertising around the world.
Her fascination with different countries - their cultural, political and environmental issues - has been the catalyst for her novels, which are all inspired by a particular landscape.
Di was inducted into the Australian Book Industry Awards Hall of Fame in 2017.