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The Paradise Guest House

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  1,082 ratings  ·  210 reviews
A riveting and poignant novel of one woman’s journey to Bali in search of love, renewal, and a place to call home—perfect for readers of Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love and Alex Garland’s The Beach.

It starts as a trip to paradise. Sent on assignment to Bali, Jamie, an American adventure guide, imagines spending weeks exploring the island’s lush jungles and pristine whi
Paperback, 288 pages
Published March 26th 2013 by Ballantine Books (first published March 20th 2013)
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3.69  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,082 ratings  ·  210 reviews

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Nov 21, 2016 rated it it was ok
Nope. This one didn't work for me. I haven't read this author before so I wasn't sure what to expect. Even though the Good Reads rating is lower than I usually like when tackling an unknown author, I still picked this one up because it fit a task in a book challenge I'm currently working on. I generally trust the masses when it comes to ratings, but occasionally I ignore them...not often though.

I liked the MC and Bambang (and his dog too.) I also liked that this was set in Bali. My main complai
Thyago | MrsMargotBlog
Jan 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
A novel well in the genre of "Eat, Pray, Love" (one of my favorite books), which describes well the beauty of Bali the island, the sea, the rice paddies, the huts by the sea, scenarios that transport us soon to a serenity without equal, a passion that we can easily understand and a reflection on facing our fears, traumas and not escape from our feelings.
The characters are captivating, well built and the story flows very naturally, it's delightful to read, it's alm
Jan 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
Jamie returns to Bali, to the scene of a tragic event she was involved in, to make peace with her past and figure out her future. This is a story of love, loss, and the power of the human spirit.

With a complex story line and believable characters, this is a book that has a little something for everyone. There is romance, mystery, self-discovery and nostalgia to be discovered in these pages.

As a fictional story centered around a real tragic event, the author has done a fine job of giving the re
Jul 07, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I like to read novels about places I'm familiar with. So I was in Bali (again) and I picked this up book up. I wish I had paid more attention at the bookstore because it turned out to be more romance novel than something that captured the essence of Bali. To the majority audience of a novel, details about unfamiliar places may not particularly matter as long as they seem plausible. As a connoisseur of novels with familiar settings details are important to me. The most irksome detail in The Parad ...more
Andrea Guy
Apr 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
When I started this book I mistakenly thought this might end up being something like The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

Boy was I wrong!

This isn't a novel of new beginnings, though by the end there are some. It is really more a novel of healing, and in The Paradise Guest House there are a lot of people that need to heal.

Jamie returns to Bali a year after she was injured in a terrorist attack. She lost her boyfriend in that attack, but she also gained a strange sort of intimacy with the man who saved
Big Book Little Book
Oct 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
Helen for
Copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review

Jamie is a likable, adventurous girl who works as a tour guide for people who want thrill seeker holidays. She had an opportunity to check out Bali for her company and is there when the tragic Bali bombs strike. Her world is turned upside down, literally and metaphorically and a year later she is back to try and get her head straight about everything that happened. We first meet Jamie making the plane
Rob Slaven
Mar 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
As is usual, I received this book for nothing from a GoodReads giveaway. Despite that kindness my candid thoughts follow.

A year ago, our protagonist was witness to the Bali nightclub bombings. Now she's returning to the country to pay her respects and find the little piece of herself that she left behind.

This book really defies easy categorization (travelogue? romance? historical novel? escapism?) but at its heart it's an allegory of guilt, grief and loss. Our heroine not only lost her friend wh
Feb 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
I read and reviewed Ellen Sussman's last novel; French Lessons back in December 2011. What impressed me most about that novel was the author's ability to tell quite an intimate, fairly complicated story in such a sparse style.

This is the story of two quite isolated people; Jamie and Gabe. Flung together in the aftermath of the terrible terrorist attacks on the island of Bali, they only spent a couple of days together before going back to live their separate lives. One year later, Jamie is retur
Mar 01, 2016 rated it liked it
"The Paradise Guest House" by Ellen Sussman was an okay read.

I have been to Bali before and I was interested on Sussman's take on an American woman who survived the Bali nightclub bombings in 2002.

The story revolves around two people. Jamie, an American adventure guide, and Gabe, an American ex-pat who comes to live and teach in Bali after dealing with a loss.

Jamie goes back to Bali a year later at an anniversary recognizing the victims and survivors of the nightclub bombing. She stays at the Pa
Jennifer Joyce
Mar 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
Tour guide Jamie Hyde is in Bali with her boyfriend Miguel when two bombs explode in town. Both Jamie and Miguel are caught up in the horrific event and Jamie's life will never be the same again.

A year later and Jamie is returning to Bali. Her injuries have healed but she is still scarred, both physically and emotionally. After going against her mother's advice, Jamie returns to the country that changed her life forever. An event to commemorate a year passing since the attack has been organised
Susan Johnson
Feb 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
I thought this book would be a nice beach read with a romantic story set in the lush scenery of Bali. Well it was that but so much more. It was a story of tragedy, grief, healing and starting a new life that you never expected. It was haunting and lovely. It is set in Bali in 2002 during the terrorist bombing of two nightclubs. Jamie Hyde is both a victim and survivor of the attack.

Jamie returns a year later for an anniversary memorial in an attempt to find the man who ultimately saved her after
Aug 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Jamie Hyde, an American adventure tour guide, travels to the most exotic locations looking for the next great adventure for adrenaline junkie tourists. Bali, Indonesia is beautiful and filled with the potential for adventure and in 2002 Jamie is sent there and invites her new boyfriend to join her. The trip to paradise turns deadly when terrorists bomb two nightclubs killing hundreds and injuring hundreds more. Not only is Jamie scarred physically; but, emotionally she is forever changed. One ye ...more
May 13, 2014 rated it it was ok
Having just returned from Bali, I thought it might be interesting and give me new insights to read some fiction set in that country. The bombings that took place in 2005 had a major impact in Bali so the focus of this book on that historical event interested me

However, this book was somewhat a Harlequin Romancy in that the characters were one-dimensional and completely unbelievable; they never came alive for me. The Balinese characters were particularly unconvincing, especially Bambang, the thie
Jaime Boler
Mar 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
Jamie is one of the most courageous and inspiring characters who I have ever come across. Setting may drive Sussman's deeply affecting story, but Jamie is an unforgettable narrator. In the midst of reading The Paradise Guest House, two bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Such a horrific act reminded me of the Bali nightclub bombings. Although Sussman's tale is fictional, the novel shows us that, even in the midst of tragedy and heartache, there is still life to live and l ...more
Feb 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Touching without being schmaltzy, Paradise Guest House takes place during and after the nightclub bombings in Bali. Jamie, who witnessed the bombing and its aftermath, returns to Bali a year later for a memorial ceremony. While her injuries have healed, Jamie is still reeling from the trauma. During her return trip to Bali, she seeks out the man who got her out of the wreckage and took care of her in the days following the blast. The story is well-written and engaging. It is comparable to Eat, P ...more
Jan 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013-reads
I can't do this book justice by my review! All I can say is WOW. I knew I wanted to read this book, I loved the synopsis and the cover!

But it was so much more than that. 2 lives, unknown to each other, interest forever. Jamie was in the attacks and Gabe heard them and helped some victims.

You will discover why it is called the Paradise Guest House. I love how it all came together, Gabe and Jamie's stories. Told from the 2 different points of view, past and present.

Lovely, just lovely. This is WHY
Jun 03, 2013 rated it liked it
I don't remember what the publisher's rep said in a book talk, exactly, to make me take this home a few months ago--something about adventure guide, romance, international, probably--but I took it with me on a trip after thinking "looks like an airplane read" with a quick glance at the cover. It's not a light/charming book at all; very wrenching in some places, in descriptions of the Bali bombings. And then it descended into cheesiness once in a while. But the setting seemed very well-realized, ...more
Bali is a country that has long intrigued me, so when I saw The Paradise Guest House by bestselling author Ellen Sussman, I knew I wanted to learn more about it. The concept sounded really interesting so I snapped it up. Set in the recent past, a blend of elements makes this touching story very special. Romance, tragedy, and redemption, all set in paradise during and after some history-making headlines. Sound interesting? Read the rest of our review at
Stephanie A.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. It's a story of a woman returning to Bali to finish healing emotionally. Her family and friends think she's crazy to return to the bomb site for a one year rememberence ceremony. She grows on her journey making new friends and and discovering old ones. Pick up this book and enjoy.
Paula J.
Jul 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
Slim but weighty novel plumbing life after tragic loss through the eyes of an American expat who retreated to Bali after his child died of meningitis and the woman he meets in the midst of the Bali terrorist attacks, in which her boyfriend is killed. Wrenching and moving tale of resilience.
Kitty Montamer
Oct 12, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: new-2014, 4, read-2014
Der erste Satz:
"Und sie?", fragte der Mann. "Was führt sie nach Bali?"

Meine Meinung:
Jamie besucht die Insel Bali erneut. Es soll eine Gedenkfeier für die Opfer des schrecklichen Terroranschlages geben, welcher vor genau einem Jahr passiert ist. Jamie ist seitdem sie ihren Freund bei dem Anschlag verloren hat, nie wieder auf der Insel gewesen. Es fällt ihr sehr schwer, doch sie gibt nicht auf.
Auf der Insel möchte sie auch gerne Gabe wieder sehen. Dieser stand ihr in der schweren Zeit vor ei
Sep 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
I have never been to Bali, and most likely I will not visit; but after reading Ellen Sussman's book, I feel as if I know the island well. I have only witnessed terrorists attacks on television, but this book made the effects of being a part of something so horrific seem very real to me. I have known loss from other events so I could relate to Jaime's reactions to her loss in the bombing and Gabe's grief with the death of his 4 year old son. I have had this book stacked in my book shelves for a f ...more
Sep 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A Story of Healing and Renewal

My first thought on finishing Ellen Sussman’s “The Paradise Guest House” was “This is elegant, economical prose”. Bali’s culture, its cities and its countryside came alive for me, as did its people. A plot built around the horrendous 2002 nightclub bombings and the physical and emotional scars of two people who lived through it, is emotional, poignant and sometimes gut wrenching but never syrupy or maudlin. I’m a nitpicking reader with no patience for verbosity and
Feb 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
I loved the portrayal of Jamie and the aftermath of the bombing in Bali. I could feel a bit what she was going through with the guilt from Miguel, surviving and the anxiety she felt. I understood the initial connection to Gabe and leaving. I felt her nerves returning to Bali for the ceremony and appreciated her stories with Bambang and Nyoman because it seemed like truthful stories about how shit happens and people have to continue moving on with their lives however best they can. But her and Ga ...more
Mar 22, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
As this story built, I felt like I was being pulled inside. I could feel what Jamie was feeling, I could feel what Gabe was feeling. The hurt, the longing for something better, looking for something to help them move forward. Seeing each other and just feeling like they were home. This story can be relatable to a lot of people. Not just because of the tragedies they have gone through but also the hurt. We all have our own pain, our own issues and this shows the reader that. I could not put it do ...more
Feb 17, 2018 rated it liked it
I bought this as it was set in Bali and we are visiting Bali later this year as part of our Indonesian holiday. It was based around the Bali bombing of two night clubs and how the two main characters coped after their experience. Although it does have some great descriptions of places in Bali and you get the feeling for the island this is basically a love story.

I did enjoy it but it is chick lit wrapped up in an interesting setting with a different kind of event as the link.

It is an easy read a
Jul 17, 2018 rated it liked it
A glimpse into the travails of the victims of the massive terrorist bombing in 2002. Fictional characters suffering losses and falling in love, and also the island natives and expats suffering loss and recovery, helped by their religious beliefs. Not bad, easy read, good geography lesson... Felt it could have been deeper and gone more into Bali's history, culture, and religious differences with the rest of Indonesia. That could have added more context to the bombings.
Reilly Frazier
Sep 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
When I first read the back cover I thought the book was going to be about her before story then suddenly she is in a bombing and that is its climax. I was completely wrong. The story starts after, although there are some flashbacks, and is completely focused on the main characters healing instead of a love story or the bombing itself in Bali. Although it does include those things, it has a strong message or how the after and what to do next is just as fascinating, devastating, and riveting.
Oct 25, 2017 rated it liked it
Not a great book, but I enjoyed it because I chose to read it as it takes place in Bali, and I am going there next week. Jamie is an American adventure tourism guide. She goes to check out Bali with a boyfriend and is there when the infamous club bombings occur in 2002. She returns a year later for a commemorative ceremony and again meets the man with whom they together rescued several people injured in the club bombings.
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Ellen Sussman is the New York Times bestselling author of four novels, A Wedding in Provence, The Paradise Guest House, French Lessons, and On a Night Like This. She is the editor of two critically acclaimed anthologies, Bad Girls: 26 Writers Misbehave and Dirty Words: A Literary Encyclopedia of Sex. She teaches through Stanford Continuing Studies and in private classes.