Saturday, January 31, 2009

Palm Beach or Bust by guest blogger Steven Head

Here's our latest review from our gurst blogger, Steve. His opening sentence is ironic, considering the springlike weekend we just had, and the pormise of similar weather this week. But I fear that Steve's first line is reality, and what we are experiencing is, well, just some nasty trick perpetrated by the evil spirits. It has been cold in my neighborhood and I know it is in the Manitowoc-Two Rivers metroplex as well. What a good time to read a book about a warm place, like Palm Beach, Florida, like this short book with a long title, “The Misadventures of Oliver Booth Life in the Lap of Luxury”.

Palm Beach, with mansions of “… thousands upon thousands of clay roof tiles bearing the shape and hue of bronzed Latin thighs sheltering their privileged residents from the steamy tropical climate”. Sounds good compared to a below zero wind chill.

Another charm of this little book, an afternoon’s read, is the way the title character, Oliver Booth, a pompous little man who behaves badly, finds himself repeatedly snubbed, pushed into a swimming pool, and facing commitment to a mental institution, to name a few. This brand of justice is best dished out in a novel, since real life is not usually as fair.

Bernard Dauphine is the other major character in this book, a young Frenchman who works as a server at one of Palm Beach’s social clubs and also the newest assistant at Oliver’s antique shop. While Bernard has no formal training in antiques, his knowledge of French history and ability to appreciate beauty, makes him superior to Oliver in antique acquisition.

The middle section of the book covers the trip Bernard and Oliver take to Paris to acquire antiques for a wealthy Palm Beach patron. It is in France where Oliver has some of his grandest misadventures. Starting with the flight and his attempt to get upgraded to first class, his ‘upgrade’ of hotel accommodations, his smashing encounter with a flea market vendor, and the engagement with the French legal system. Smiles and chuckles the constant companion.

I did not find any deep truths, no penetrating glimpses into human behavior, or redeeming moral values reveals. But it is a light hearted amusement and sometimes that is exactly what is needed.

The other item of interest is author David Desmond is the nephew of Donald Trump. Makes you wonder who served as the modeled for the boorish obnoxious title character.

***Interested in being a guest blogger? Email me at

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