3 out of 4 stars
Share This Review
Paradise Mislaid is a thought-provoking short novel by Francis M. Boggs that questions the current state of the world, especially the entrenched belief systems of established religions. His novel effectively asks the question: Is there a better way? In my opinion, looking at today's world, there is. The story begins with Professor Hugh Norris and his friend, Bishop Bede Murray, catching up for dinner together in London. Hugh has pursued a career in science after leaving the church many years ago. As he says to Bede: "To question everything in pursuit of logic." During their dinner, Bede confesses his soul and mind have been "sorely troubled" lately and his faith tested. What he doesn't know is that it's about to face the greatest test of all. Hugh tells Bede of a theory he's been developing, a revolutionary idea which will challenge the world's religions and potentially usher in a vital new order to bring peace to the planet...
The author, now retired, was born in 1935, which would make him 84 this year. Clearly, he has a wealth of accumulated wisdom and life experience as well as any research he conducted for this book, which lent definite credence and weight to his tale. He included factual background information about the Catholic church and the Pope, among other things, which added realism to the story. He also featured a relevant quote to begin each chapter from various sources including Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained by John Milton. I found these quotes useful and thought-provoking, prompting me to ponder the philosophical issues of the novel in greater depth.
The story was enjoyable, featuring some great friendships and fun banter between the characters as they discussed the important issues and spent leisure time together. At around 170 pages in total, it moved along at a decent pace, skipping irrelevant details and sticking to the main plot. I felt this was a good story length for this idea, as a regular novel of 300 pages would likely have stagnated and seemed a little slow if exploring the same theme. Hugh Norris's ground-breaking central idea was intriguing and thought-provoking; I thought it had definite validity, offering plenty of value to the human race going forward to improve our world from its current state.
Paradise Mislaid did need further editing, however. There were many examples of missing punctuation and other minor errors. One example of incorrect comma placement was: "'I will see you and Jewel at dinner,' he said smilingly, 'and don't dress, formally will you?'" The comma should have been after "formally," not "dress." Instead, it sounded like Hugh was asking his friend not to get dressed! Minor errors like this took me out of the story as I had to stop and think about what the author really meant. Also, I felt there would have been more resistance to the change Hugh suggested, especially from the Catholic Church, which is extremely rich. Like electric power competing against fossil fuels, I felt Hugh's idea might have taken a far greater fight to set up, even though he did have the scientific proof of his claims.
The dialogue didn't sound natural in some places, either. For example, from Mark: "'God!' he said, 'I wish that I had never embarked on this Cyborg project. I had visions of it being a boon to civilisation in so many sedentary occupations, but as you know we disbanded it but preserved records...'" This seemed too formal, more like explaining the plot than just speaking naturally. Jewel's reply of "Oh, dear me" also seemed a bit too old-fashioned from a young woman. There were plenty of other examples of somewhat stilted-sounding dialogue from which contractions were noticeably absent, such as: "Yes, that is what Hugh said. By the way, what is it that you have there?" The dialogue attribution also often included adverbs like "smilingly." It might have been better to say "said Hugh, smiling" or even "joked Hugh." Overall, there were far too many uses of "smilingly" and "laughingly" throughout the book.
I found Paradise Mislaid an enjoyable and thought-provoking short novel which just needed further editing. Were half-stars possible, I would rate it 2-and-a-half, but I'm giving it 3 out of 4 stars because I don't believe any of its issues were too major. Those who are open to having their existing ideas and beliefs questioned would enjoy this book; however, it does present a strong challenge to accepted religious doctrine, so if your faith is particularly strong, you might not appreciate what Professor Hugh Norris has to say.
View: on Bookshelves
Like joshfee77's review? Post a comment saying so!