Friday, December 19, 2008

Book Review: Drama & Diplomacy in Sultry Puerto Vallarta by Jenny McGill.

I’m always surprised when I go and check the mailbox and discover that a book has arrived to be reviewed. It’s not that common an occurrence but it does happen. And that’s how I ended up with a copy of Jenny McGill’s book Drama & Diplomacy in Sultry Puerto Vallarta.

An anecdotal account of Jenny and her husband Howard’s life in Puerto Vallarta in the 1970s and 1980’s, this  book is a jumble of events and colorful characters that dotted the landscape of a town only beginning to grow.

Much of the book focuses on Jenny’s time as the consular agent for the US Government and offers an inside glimpse into a bygone era when diplomacy truly was diplomacy.

After telling us the four D's - death, detention, disappearance and destitute – that make up a consular agent’s area of responsibility, Jenny introduces us to a cast of characters, each of which fit into one or other of these four categories. The descriptions are not always pretty (or clean) but each individual character we meet provides an almost historic reflection of a Puerto Vallarta that no longer exists.

The writing style won’t suit everyone. Those who like their stories to flow  gently and evenly along a well defined path will find it difficult to read. You have a feeling that Jenny writes like she talks and the book is not so much a complete story as it is a collection of vignettes. Reading it is almost like sitting and listening to a favorite aunt reminiscing about her past – interesting and fun, sometimes confusing and disjointed, but always intriguing and compelling.

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