Have you ever thought about opening up a restaurant on an island?
Today’s featured book, set on the island of Anguilla, is about two island newbies following that dream and sharing all of their highs and lows in between.
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Written by: Melinda & Robert Blanchard
Originally published: 2001
No matter which island we actually reside on, we all have our island crushes. You know what I’m talking about – that island you love to “cheat” on your home rock with; that island you put on a pedestal and think of fondly whenever your home rock is frustrating you. One of my island crushes is Anguilla. My trips there have been nothing short of magical and I dream of that beauty often, so I was excited to finally read this book.
Bob & Melinda Blanchard also fell in love with Anguilla many years before I did. Having never lived on an island before, they decided to make the leap and not only move there, but also decided to open up their own restaurant in paradise as well.
For those of you who have lived and worked in the tropics, you know this is no easy feat. This book chronicles their journey – one that may feel familiar to you in many ways.
This is the true story of a trip to the beach that never ends. It’s about a husband and wife who escape civilization to build a small restaurant on an island paradise — and discover that even paradise has its pitfalls. It’s a story filled with calamities and comedy, culinary disasters and triumphs, and indelible portraits of people who live and work on a sliver of beauty set in the Caribbean Sea. It’s about the maddening, exhausting, outlandish complications of trying to live the simple life — and the joy that comes when you somehow pull it off.
The story begins when Bob and Melinda Blanchard sell their successful Vermont food business and decide, perhaps impulsively, to get away from it all. Why not open a beach bar and grill on Anguilla, their favorite Caribbean island? One thing leads to another and the little grill turns into an enchanting restaurant that quickly draws four-star reviews and a celebrity-studded clientele eager for Melinda’s delectable cooking. Amid the frenetic pace of the Christmas “high season,” the Blanchards and their kitchen staff — Clinton and Ozzie, the dancing sous-chefs; Shabby, the master lobster-wrangler; Bug, the dish-washing comedian — come together like a crack drill team. And even in the midst of hilarious pandemonium, there are moments of bliss.
As the Blanchards learn to adapt to island time, they become ever more deeply attached to the quirky rhythms and customs of their new home. Until disaster strikes: Hurricane Luis, a category-4 storm with two-hundred-mile-an-hour gusts, devastates Anguilla. Bob and Melinda survey the wreckage of their beloved restaurant and wonder whether leaving Anguilla, with its innumerable challenges, would be any easier than walking out on each other. Affectionate, seductive, and very funny, A Trip to the Beach is a love letter to a place that becomes both home and escape. – via Amazon
Readers who will love this book:
Anyone who has ever wanted to start an island business – whether you’ve seen that daydream through or not. Starting any business is complicated, but doing so on a remote island can present other unforeseen challenges, especially if you’re relatively new to island living. Following along as Bob & Melinda overcome many obstacles is at times comical, frustrating, and also heartwarming. You’ll definitely be cheering them on – and potentially reconsidering your desire to do the same.
Readers who have been to Anguilla. Blanchards and Blanchards Beach Shack are iconic fixtures on the island and if you’ve visited Anguilla, you’ve no doubt eaten at one or both of them. This book will not only bring back happy memories of your time there, but will also give you a peek into the people and personalities behind the business.
Those who have lived through a hurricane and have worked to rebuild. The book recounts their experience with their first hurricane – Luis in 1995 – and their decision to not give up on their island dream. Having just barely finished building and opening their restaurant, it wasn’t an easy decision to rebuild and the emotional roller coaster is very relatable.
If you make it to Anguilla, be sure to visit Blanchards restaurant and their charming, toes-in-the-sand beach shack on the stunning Meads Bay.
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If you’ve read the featured book too, be sure to leave a comment below or on our Facebook page – we can chat about it and it’ll be like our own island-style book club!
Looking for more Island Reads? Here are a couple of others I’ve covered for you to check out:
If you’re a fellow island reader and would like to connect on all things books, you can find me on Goodreads. I even have a shelf of island related books, which I plan to cover in future posts like this one.