Lisa's Reviews > The Mosquito Coast

The Mosquito Coast by Paul Theroux
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's review
Apr 22, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: 2010, own, faves, been-around-the-world-and-i-i-i, into-the-mud, coming-of-age, family-business
Recommended to Lisa by: Is Allen
Read from April 15 to 22, 2010 , read count: 1

I've just done this the wrong way round - film first. Now want to see if the film can be bettered (they usually are, and in that case I'm in for a treat!)


.....and it would seem that my hypothesis was right as, while the film is excellent, the book is even better.

Allie Fox is an incredibly interesting and complex character – an idealistic, driven man of great vision and something of a mechanical genius who, fed up with what he sees as the rotten state of America, drags his family off to the Honduran jungle to start again. Many elements of the things that Allie believes and accomplishes are, in my opinion, quite admirable; however his idealism is extreme and his method of getting things done is to domineer and bully his family and those around him, while his arrogance stops him from seeing that he’s not always right, as he claims to be. Upon making a catastrophic mistake, instead of using common sense and doing what is right by his family, Allie instead embarks upon a series of ever more dangerous mistakes and increasingly extreme behaviour and, by sheer force of personality, drags his family against their better instincts further down into nightmare.

Central to the story is the relationship between Allie and his son Charlie (one of the most interesting father-son relationships I’ve read) and the journey that Charlie takes, from hero-worship of his father to the slow realization that Dad may actually be wrong and that his behaviour could get them killed, was incredibly well done and the mix of love, admiration, fear and hatred that Charlie experiences for his father (and that most people experience, although to a far lesser and dramatic degree, as they reach adulthood and realise that their parents are not gods but mere humans) was written masterfully.

As comparison between the book and the film I think Harrison Ford did an incredible job with the character of Allie, his easy-going charm and likeability off-setting a lot of the character’s flaws to the point that I didn’t realise what an arse he was until a significant portion of the film was underway whereas in the book, even with Charlie’s early utter acceptance of his dad as god-like figure, it was clear from the beginning that Allie was indeed a bit of a pig and a truly horrific parent.

An excellent book that I highly recommend, and I’ll definitely be on the lookout for more of Theroux’s work.

P.S. I really can’t stand it when a grown man calls his own wife Mother.
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