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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

Blue Bay Palace

Nathacha Appanah

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To purchase Blue Bay Palace

Title: Blue Bay Palace
Author: Nathacha Appanah
Genre: Novel
Written: 2004 (Eng. 2009)
Length: 102 pages
Original in: French
Availability: Blue Bay Palace - US
Blue Bay Palace - UK
Blue Bay Palace - Canada
Blue Bay Palace - Canada (French)
Blue Bay Palace - France
Blue Bay Palace - Deutschland
  • French title: Blue Bay Palace
  • Translated by Alex Stanton

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Our Assessment:

B : fine if somewhat thin novella of love, class divides, and fate

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
World Lit. Today . 1-4/2005 Adele King

  From the Reviews:
  • "This is, however, despite the intensity of emotion, a story of how passion is intertwined with class and economic position. (...) Blue Bay Palace is more a story of illusions and resentment than of hotblooded love in the tropics." - Adele King, World Literature Today

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Blue Bay Palace is narrated by Maya, a girl from the wrong side of the tracks in Mauritius. The idyllic tropical vacation spot is, she thinks, "a country in extremis" -- and:

     Like this country, I am a child in extremis. That is why my parents named me Maya -- illusion, the one whom we believe is, but who is not.
       Blue Bay sounds like it might be a decent place to grow up, but it's a poor little corner of this paradise, the side of the village where no one, for example has a car:
When one can afford a car, one leaves Blue Bay
       Maya had ambitions to get out, but a day after she turned sixteen she met Dave, the spoilt and rich son of a Brahman family from Mahébourg ("It was only half an hour away from Blue Bay, but another world"). And so she too goes to work at Le Paradis, the resort where Dave works -- the hotel where he is, in fact, Maya's father's boss.
       They have a passionate and extended love affair, which blinds Maya to the reality of their situation. Dave seems like a confident, take-charge kind of guy when she describes the first years of their affair, but it turns out he has trouble standing up against certain kinds of tradition (and confrontation in general, apparently). And so one day Maya reads "a small report in the local paper" -- and learns that Dave has gotten married:
I didn't suspect a thing. Dave had told me he was tired and that he was going to rest at home for two weeks; he would be the one to call me.
       Maya is crushed, but their affair continues, Dave wanting both worlds -- pleasing his family and living up to expectations, while also having the girl he (apparently) loves. Appanah nicely conveys the change in their relationship, and Maya's inability to let go.
       Dave is an interesting character in that he is entirely frank about his weakness. Maya recognizes it, but can't let the bum go. And then there's the ominous moment when, talking about his bride: "he said those unfortunate words: 'Sometimes I wish she would die".
       Maya does not seek out vengeance, but she remains caught up in her obsession. It embroils her in another relationship, and it does, ultimately, lead to tragedy.
       A tale of young, messy love, where chance leads to fate, Blue Bay Palace is a bit thin to sustain all this raw emotion, passion, and hurt. The sketches -- Maya's impressions of wealth and luxury, her father's struggles with the cacti around their house, dealing with the tourists -- are often very good, but the novel could have used a bit more substance. Still, early on Maya seems to acknowledge that all this experience has not matured her, still describing herself as "a child", and the narrative voice retains a convincing childish quality that Appanah pulls off quite well and that works quite well for much of the story..

- M.A.Orthofer, 11 June 2009

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Blue Bay Palace: Reviews: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Nathacha Appanah-Mouriquand was born in Mauritius in 1973 and moved to France in 1999.

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