Book Of The Month March, 2010
The Mango Orchard: Travelling back…Robin Bayley
As a child, Robin Bayley was enchanted by his grandmother s stories of Mexican adventures: of bandits, wild jungle journeys, hidden bags of silver and a narrow escape from the bloody Mexican Revolution. But Robin sensed there was more to these stories than anyone knew, and so he set out to follow in the footsteps of his great-grandfather. The Mango Orchard is the story of parallel journeys, a hundred years apart, into the heart of Latin America. Undaunted by the passage of time and a paucity of information, Robin seeks out the places where his great-grandfather Arthur ‘Arturo’ Greenhalgh travelled and lived, determined to uncover his legacy. Along the road Robin encounters witches, drug dealers, a gun-toting Tasmanian Devil and an ex-Nazi diamond trader. He is threatened with deportation, offered the protection of Colombian guerrilla fighters and is comforted by the blessings of los santos. He falls in love with a beautiful Guatemalan girl with mystical powers and almost gives up his quest, until a sense of destiny drives him on to western Mexico and the discovery of much, much more than he had bargained for.
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What We Think
Author Robin Bayley on Pretentious Opening Lines:
I have often thought that having obscure quotes on the opening pages of a book was the height of pretentiousness. Quotes in French, quotes in Latin, quotes from Chinese proverbs about how pebbles are really bigger than mountains or quotes attributed to mythical figures from the twelfth century about the wisdom of hairy-arsed shepherds. If you haven’t managed to communicate all you wanted to in the 90,000 words of the book, will an oracular pronouncement by someone long deceased really make up for it?
But then I wrote a book myself. To be honest, before I even wrote a word of The Mango Orchard, I already knew the quote I wanted on the opening page of the book:
We shall not cease from exploration
And in the end of our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
It’s from Little Gidding by T S Eliot. I showed it to Trevor, my publisher. He loved it, we just need to get it cleared, he said. The TS Eliot estate, perhaps in an attempt to reduce pretentious quotes at the beginning of books, said no.
We asked again, nicely. They didn’t answer. Then they said no. Buggers.
So I don’t have this quote at the beginning of The Mango Orchard, but I have another. It’s unpretentious and apt. You’ll have to read the book to see what it is.
Read an extract.
Follow Robin Bayley on his blog.