Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Prisoner of Paradise” as Want to Read:
The Prisoner of Paradise
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Prisoner of Paradise

3.22  ·  Rating Details ·  92 Ratings  ·  24 Reviews
When Lucy arrives in Mauritius she is unprepared for the disquieting attractions of Don Lambodar, a young translator from Ceylon. Under the surface there is growing unease, it is 1825: Britain has wrested power from France and is shipping convict labour across the oceans. The age of slavery is coming to its messy end
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published February 1st 2012 by Bloomsbury UK (first published January 1st 2005)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Prisoner of Paradise, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Prisoner of Paradise

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
The book was interesting for its portrayal of the various cultures (African, Indian, Ceylonese, English, Dutch) which found themselves on Mauritius in the 1820s. Slavery and use of convict labour were the manpower to the British. Cruelty was used as the means of control. But given the times, the island was fairly enlightened and the relationship between the young virginal Lucy and the Ceylonese Don was able to be formed without too many roadblocks.
Lucy was the typical English young lady. Her par
Uthpala Dassanayake
Apr 01, 2014 Uthpala Dassanayake rated it liked it
I expected more from Prisoner of Paradise. Of course Gunasekara has nicely presented the vast cultural and class diversity of islanders that none has roots there. Don Lambodar’s situation and his feelings are done beautifully, but cannot say the same about the other main character Lucy Gladwell. Depth of Lucy’s character hardly goes beyond a typical strong headed woman in a Wilbur Smith or a Geoffrey Archer (For some reason all these authors think a righteous woman with her own will cannot be se ...more
May 10, 2014 Annalie rated it really liked it
Gunesekera has the talent to show his readers the world from the perspectives of his very different characters. Real page-turner of a story, wonderful description of the island and very interesting insight into the history of Mauritius.
Imran Shah
Aug 06, 2015 Imran Shah rated it really liked it
I loved this book! The prose was so good! The description of surroundings paralleled the circumstances/feelings of people.

It was very disappointing, then, when the story ended abruptly with the death of a character. D:

In general, a great read! Has reminded me of my passion for Literature.
Tanushree Podder
Oct 28, 2013 Tanushree Podder rated it really liked it
one of the few books that speak about the colonial era at Mauritius...very engrossing and lyrical. loved it...
Jairam Mohan
Jul 09, 2015 Jairam Mohan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A book written in classic English literature style, I liked it primarily because it not only chronicles a moving love story of the protagonists but is set in quite a unique setting, Mauritius in 1825.

Detailed review put up at
Justin Neville
Apr 28, 2013 Justin Neville rated it did not like it
Shelves: did-not-finish
Abandoned on page 80. Too confusing and unengaging. I might have persevered if I had a particular interest in the setting or if I were reading it for a book group. But I don't and I could feel my life slipping away so I've done what I rarely do and have given up.

Too many characters talking strangely to one another, none of them sympathetic, and a very strange writing style.
Apr 04, 2013 Teresa rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013
"The ending kind of leaves you with a sense of "this was a great book...but the ending brings it down to 3 stars." "
read more:
Sam Still Reading
Jul 18, 2012 Sam Still Reading rated it liked it
Recommends it for: those who enjoy historical fiction
Recommended to Sam Still Reading by: sent by publisher - thank you
The Prisoner of Paradise is a unique book and I’m eager to tell you why! Firstly, it allowed me to experience a place I’ve never seen in real life, nor read as a setting in a book – Mauritius. Now that I’ve read this book, I’m eager to know a lot more about this country and culture. Lucy, one of the main characters in this novel by Romesh Gunesekera, instantly falls in love with the island. She describes the light as ‘dazzling’ and the water ‘sparkling’. It sounds like a tropical paradise, espec ...more
Catherine Jakuta
Dec 08, 2016 Catherine Jakuta rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: Anyone who already likes Romesh's other novels
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Anne Tucker
Sep 28, 2015 Anne Tucker rated it really liked it
this book took m,e ages to start enjoying - I found the characters flat, the environment 'expected', the writing didnt seem to lift . However, once the politics of the characters get going, particularly when the hurricane hits, it is really powerful. ~perhaps he wrote it like that, nobody suspecting anything, especially the smug British believing they can solve any problems with cruelty, and then suddenly everything is racing and human life as nature is all equally in jeopardy. That's when 'just ...more
It's such a treat to read books by Sri Lankan authors that are actually well written. Romesh's language is poetic and that's quite apt considering The Prisoner of Paradise is a love story. A tragic one though.

The story is set in Mauritius, where a Sri Lankan Prince is banished. The Prince has an interpreter, Ashok, who falls in love with a young British girl of higher class. There's a lot of historical facts in the book, though Romesh says he didn't do much research and mostly relied on his ima
Jun 15, 2013 Michael rated it really liked it
Shelves: library
The writing was beautiful but might be judged to be a tad florid by others.

But hell, it's Christmas eve and I am feeling warm and fuzzy and this suits me just fine.

I never liked historical romance and this just keeps it on the right side of being immensely readable without heaving bosoms and the usual handsome lead.

Of course there will be the stereotypical english characters but it's 1825. We have to let history take its course but what an interesting path it does in this novel about a little
Sep 30, 2013 Sam rated it really liked it
A beautifully written novel, that explores the turmoil of emotions both within Lucy and Don Lambador as their meeting in Mauritius stirs new feelings within them and, the population overall as the melting pot of peoples on the island struggle to find a way of life that's fair and fulfilling for all.

I certainly didn't expect the ending that came in this novel and wondered how Romesh Gunesekera came to end it that way. Did the story take over and write itself by that point?

Mauritius now on my wis
Oct 01, 2013 Baljit rated it liked it
This book of this writer is a vast difference as it is set in the 1800's in colonial Mauritius. Most of his books are set in or around Ceylon in the 1950-1990s. The characters here are of the English and French colonials and native servants, and the colorful excited Ceylonese Prince and his translator. The entire prose reflects that of a different era. The tone is of class and color discrimination in an island paradise.
Christoph Fischer
Mar 09, 2013 Christoph Fischer rated it it was amazing
"The Prisoner of Paradise" by Romesh Gunesekera is a great historical novel set in Mauritius in 1825. As always with the author it is enjoyable and magical and creates a great atmosphere of the time. The way the various characters perceive the political changes and the end of slavery, combined with a sweet love story made this a charming and pleasant read.
Ravi Mendis
Mar 29, 2013 Ravi Mendis rated it liked it
Romance is clearly not Romesh's strong suit, Whilst I loved The Reef in its subtle description of sex, the scenes in The Prisoner of Paradise came across like a harlequin romance novel. I cringed. I didn't think there was anything worse than Twilight until now...
Sep 12, 2012 Windy rated it it was ok
Shelves: around-the-world
et in Mauritius in 1825 this is a love story set against a backdrop of political unrest. I found the political bits complicated and uninteresting and the love story was disappointing as well.
Catherine Jakuta
Dec 08, 2016 Catherine Jakuta rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I registered a book at!
Jan 16, 2013 Jenny rated it really liked it
interesting story, strange ending.
Sep 07, 2015 Melissa rated it really liked it
Lush, morally-gripping and bursting with the splendour of the tropics. If you loved the setting and forbidden love of 'The God of Small Things' by Arundhati Roy, you'll enjoy this.
Meghan Horvath
Oct 07, 2013 Meghan Horvath rated it it was ok
I stopped this book halfway through as though the setting and the language were exquisite I wasn't drawn in by the English characters in Mauritius. Though haven't given up on Gunesekera yet!
Russell James
May 21, 2014 Russell James rated it it was ok
Can't say this worked for me. The style seemed way below his last, and the key character Lucy a hundred years ahead of her time.
Prakash rated it it was ok
May 23, 2014
Ming rated it really liked it
Sep 29, 2013
Carolina rated it really liked it
Mar 29, 2013
Carol rated it it was ok
Aug 18, 2013
Aneetha rated it liked it
Jan 20, 2013
Marianne rated it really liked it
Jul 28, 2016
Thilina rated it really liked it
Feb 13, 2016
« previous 1 3 4 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Flower Boy
  • The Widow's Daughter
  • The Secret Children
  • The Sweet and Simple Kind
  • The Road From Elephant Pass
  • Love Marriage
  • The Rape of Sita
  • Stalking the Wild Dik-Dik: One Woman's Solo Misadventures Across Africa
  • Mosquito
  • Swimming in the Monsoon Sea
  • Forbidden Jewel of India (Herriard, #1)
  • The O'Briens
  • Chinaman: The Legend of Pradeep Mathew
  • Little Bones
  • Harmattan
  • Tropical Fish: Tales from Entebbe
  • Season of Light
  • City of Promise: A Novel of New York's Gilded Age (Old New York, #4)
Romesh Gunesekera was born in Sri Lanka where he spent his early years. Before coming to Britain he also lived in the Philippines. He now lives in London. In 2010 he was writer in residence at Somerset House.

His first novel, Reef, was published in 1994 and was short-listed as a finalist for the Booker Prize, as well as for the Guardian Fiction Prize. In the USA he was nominated for a New Voice Awa
More about Romesh Gunesekera...

Share This Book