My rating: (4 / 5)
My good friend Jill recommended this book to me a while ago, and I had great plans for it. Since it was a Caribbean travel memoir, it had to be read in the summertime (so I wasn’t too consumed with jealousy over the wonderful time the author was having) and preferably, it would be read on vacation.
This July finally fit the bill, and I toted An Embarrassment of Mangoes along with me on our northern camping vacation. While I was in the deep woods and the author and her husband were sailing on deep water, I still felt a kinship with them, based somewhat on my own experiences in the Carribean, and somewhat on my love of traveling with your spouse.
If you’ve ever wanted to leave your life behind and sail away to a tropical island where you can forget about work, stress, home ownership woes, and obligations to friends and family for a little while, you aren’t alone. Ann Vanderhoof and her husband, publishing big-wigs from Toronto, felt similarly about their lives. They were tired of pollution, of a nine to five workday that got them home after dark, of Canadian cold and winter skies. They made great money but were searching for a different kind of richness in their life, which they discovered on a used sailboat and a squirreled-away savings account as they travelled together.
The book is peppered with enticing recipes, though most require items that are hard to find, if not impossibly expensive here in Canada. Still, it doesn’t keep you from fantasizing about cooking your own fresh lobster and having fresh mango salsa on your plate. The book is bittersweet, and tells of their triumphs and pitfalls as first time sailors in a nostalgic memoir that takes you along their journey through the golden glow of memory, clearly seeing things as they do in their fondest thoughts of their trip. The writing style is concise, but with enough drama to keep you interested in their story. Overall, it is a perfect vacation book, best read under a bright sun on a drowsy, relaxed afternoon.