The Secret Resort of Nostalgia, by Sahlan Diver
Hey guys, welcome back to Bookish Beyond.
Have you stumbled upon any new bookish gems lately?
Today, I’m excited to be reviewing The Secret Resort of Nostalgia, by Sahlan Diver.
So, if you’ve got your favourite drink to hand and are all settled in, let’s begin.
Set mainly in Ireland in the 1990s, Mike Denning recants the tale of how he was assigned to work at the secret resort of Nostalgia, documenting key moments on the mysterious island resort.
Mike is to work officially for a mysterious figure known only as ‘The Earl’ and is instructed to keep secret all he is about to learn about Nostalgia. The Earl and those close to him formed the secret town of Nostalgia on a remote, never-before inhabited island, where people can live an ideal lifestyle, away from the greed of modern society. However, the island has some peculiarities that Mike is beginning to question; a disappeared sculptress, a mysterious research institute, and places he’s forbidden to go without reason.
Can such an idealistic place really be as perfect as it seems, or is something more sinister afoot?
Mike soon discovers that he’s not the only one with questions about the mysterious island of Nostalgia.
Throughout the story, three characters played a key role: Mike Denning, Saoirse, and a man known officially as The Earl.
Mike Denning, a twenty-two year old graduate from England has been assigned to interview people and gather data about Nostalgia. Kind and caring, Mike immediately seemed likable as a character. He was also curious, resourceful, and intelligent, with a heart full of romance. At all points of the story, he worked hard to find out more about the island of Nostalgia and its inner workings. He never gave up, showing great determination even in the face of multiple obstacles, including a devastating heartbreak.
Saoirse acts as Mike’s guide around Nostalgia and became his main love interest of the story. She has a quiet, calm, and intelligent presence, always taking in more than she lets on. She was very beautiful and possessed an encyclopaedic knowledge of the island of Nostalgia. Both mysterious and flirtatious, there was something about Saoirse that I couldn’t put my finger on. It seemed as though she was holding onto a secret, one which we – as readers – are not permitted to know until the end of the story.
Finally, we come to The Earl, a secretive man who seems overly proud of his accomplishments. He appeared nice enough at the start of the story and had an overall idealistic type of nature, believing in a more socially responsible version of capitalism. As an idealist myself, I came to admire The Earl’s perspective and how the island town of Nostalgia had been organised and maintained over the years, to provide a literal sense of nostalgia, self-sufficiency, and a sort of past-time innocence.
There was much to enjoy about The Secret Resort of Nostalgia, further details of which can be found below:
- The unique, first-person narration had a very deep, thoughtful, and personal tone to it, reflecting on the main character’s past.
- The author draws you in with a clever, mysterious, and intriguing idea which he builds upon as the novel continues.
- I loved how mysterious the hidden island of Nostalgia seemed: keeping its own time, being heavily guarded, and having its own unique currency. In addition, having one area of the island not being labelled on the official Nostalgia map led me to ask questions. It immediately seemed suspicious to me, as though something were being deliberately hidden from Nostalgia’s residents.
- I love how the island is described, as ‘enchanting,’ with everything being crafted beautifully in comparison to the modern day world: roof gardens, a great glass dome, cast iron bridges, having small local stores instead of mainland supermarkets, and more.
- I also liked how Nostalgia was structured, with different gates in the main wall named after what the sector catered toward, e.g. Theatre Gate, etc.
The only negative I could identify was that there were quite a few noticeable typos in the book. Therefore, I feel that the novel could do with a good proofread.
There were many fine quotes within this story, however, I eventually settled on the following four.
1) ‘People don’t think- That’s the problem. They let others do their thinking for them.’
2) ‘Even intelligent people can get involved in long-running, childish disputes, which do no good to either side.’
3) ‘People can develop an appreciation of quality, given the opportunity.’
4) ‘Full employment, lucrative employment, meaningful employment, are the necessary preconditions for a harmonious and safe society, free of the social dysfunction characterising the modern world.’
Overall, The Secret Resort of Nostalgia was an excellent, well-written novel about an idealistic experiment to escape the disadvantages of the modern world, in search of something better.
Love, idealism, mystery, and deception grace these pages, making for a remarkable novel that I couldn’t put down.
My Rating: 5 stars.
Recommended to: lovers of mysterious tales involving deception, love, and above all – nostalgia.
Note: Recommended to those aged 18 + as there are adult themes such as sex mentioned throughout.
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