David Lodge has earned critical acclaim with his clever and highly amusing fiction. PARADISE NEWS is Lodge’s ninth novel and certainly one of his most profound and comic. Bernard Walsh is an ex-priest who seems to have lost his religious faith, although he has become a theology teacher at St. John’s College. Continuing to lead a cloistered life, he suffers from a deep-seated sense of frustration with himself and the world he inhabits. Walsh may have left the priesthood, but the trappings that go with the profession, such as celibacy, have become impossible to remove. An opportunity for change comes when he receives a phone call from his aunt Ursula, who many years before had distanced herself from the family by moving to Hawaii. Ursula informs her nephew that she is dying and that she would like to see her brother—Bernard’s father—one last time before she dies. After much discussion, Walsh and his father join a British tour group that is flying to Hawaii.
Lodge has fun describing the many English types who have signed up for the tour. Hawaii is looked upon as a paradise on earth for the holiday traveler. Walsh’s father, who has never flown before, finds that the excursion poses many trials for an elderly gentleman set in his English ways. For Walsh, though, this trip is a wonderful opportunity to escape from the monotony of his cloistered life. Just after their arrival, Walsh’s father is hit by a car when he attempts to cross the street. Walsh must then shoulder the responsibility of both his father and his aunt. He also becomes infatuated with the woman who hit his father. Walsh has never imagined that it would be possible for him to have a meaningful relationship with a woman. The woman, Yolande, teaches him how to give and receive love. Lodge skillfully presents how the power of...
(The entire section is 459 words.)