Book Review: Beneath the Marigolds


When her best friend, Reese Marigold, goes missing after attending Last Chance, an exclusive singles' retreat on a remote island off the coast of Hawaii, no-nonsense lawyer Ann Stone infiltrates the retreat.

Ann quickly realizes there's more to Last Chance than meets the eye. The extravagant clothes, never-ending interviews, and bizarre dates hint that the retreat is a front for a reality dating show. Could Reese be safe, keeping a low profile until the premier, or did something sinister occur after all?

Torn between the need to uncover the truth and her desperate desire to get off the island, Ann partakes in the unusual routines of the "journey to true love" and investigates the other attendees who all have something to hide. In a final attempt to find Reese on the compound, she realizes that she herself may never get off the island alive.

My Review
My first thought as I was reading this book was that I was getting 9 Perfect Strangers vibes. It sure felt like the "resort" that Ann went to in search of her friend Reese was giving me cult vibes. There was sure something not right about this place. the mystery surrounding Reese's disappearance was intriguing. Although, I found most of the characters not that very interesting. Well, I know I struggled to form emotional connections with them. So, at times it felt like I was just going through the motions of reading and not digesting what I was reading. Overall, though, I did like this book even though it moved at a slow pace.

There were several questions at the end of the book for discussion. I thought this one was an interesting question:

Why do you think the author chose to open the book with Magda putting makeup on Reese? What does makeup represent in this novel, and how does it parallel with reality television and constructed societal roles?

I think the author chose to open with book with Reese getting makeup to present the image that was not a "puppet" and not in control. Which brings me to the second question. I think makeup represented "armor" or "mask" of sorts. The makeup was to hide the real person and mold them into who they "should" represent. Just like reality television. We all know that reality television is not real but still a scripted show. That does not mean that we as viewers are not still intrigued by the personas of the contestants or people on the shows.


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