The Mango Orchard: The extraordinary true story of a family lost and found by Robin Bayley
A charming, entertaining and very easy to read. Perfect for the summer (if we had one!).
When Robin Bayley was little, his grandmother would regale him with stories about her father, who had gone to work in a weaving factory in Mexico. His adventures seemed so fantastical and amazing. Now an adult facing a crossroads in life, Bayley decides to set out and trace his grandfather’s steps, back to the mill near a small town near the river somewhere in Mexico. Along the way he ends up in places he doesn’t expect—Colombia, for instance!—he meets an interesting cast of characters, he falls in love, and in the end what he finds is more than he expects.
This seems like the recipe for a perfect story for me, and the author does not disappoint. Bayley’s free flowing prose is so easy to read and you are quickly drawn up into his story and adventures. He seems like an ordinary bloke caught up in a journey full of purpose, and you get caught up along with him. Through a series of seemingly random occurrences he meets Juanita, falls in love, has to leave her, ends up in Colombia in a patched-together rickety contraption over the mountains into Venezuela, then finally to Mexico where the real story begins.
Bayley’s family history also turns out to be very interesting, and I like the way he weaves his great-grandfather’s stories with what actually happens. The stories are richly told, with a touch of magic realism.
Yay or nay?
Bayley’s narrative does a good job of incorporating just a little bit of history—the significant parts—to see how this intertwines with his own. If you like your history and travel with a little bit of goss, this is perfect for you. It is charming, entertaining and very easy to read. Perfect for the summer (if we had one!).
Who might enjoy it: People who enjoy being told a good story
Who might not enjoy it: People who don’t like a bit of drama with their history