This novel is about a man who discovers himself by moving to a different part of the world.
Set in the 1980s, River is a high-level Congressional staffer in Washington. Suddenly, he quits his job and sells his car. He packs up his possessions, and hops a plane to Jamaica. He had visited the island in the past, and fell in love with the scenery.
He intentionally bypasses Kingston, the capital, which is full of tourists. His intention is to stay in Jamaica, longer if possible, while he writes a novel set during the Vietnam War. He finds a place to live near the town of Port Antonio. He does not tell anyone back home where he is living, not wanting to deal with people who invite themselves for a visit. He meets a number of decent, reasonable people in his travels, along with people who are best avoided as much as possible. Like it or not, Jamaica is still a Third World country, with a huge gap between rich and poor. Hurricane Gilbert hit the island a few weeks previously, causing a lot of damage.
River's ultimate intention is to be accepted as a Jamaican, not as some rich white tourist just passing through. He writes for several hours a day, as if the story is just pouring out of him. He spends the rest of each day enjoying the scenery and ocean views. He is very uninterested in several romantic offers from female tourists who make it to that part of the island. One day, in a local park, he spots a young woman who, emotionally, knocks him on his rear end. He has no idea who she is, or where she lives, but he can't get her out of his head. Does River finish his novel? Does he speak to his mystery woman?
Here is a very quiet, but beautifully written novel. The scenery of Jamaica is just as much a character as any of the natives, who speak in actual Jamaican patois. For anyone who has visited, or wants to visit, Jamaica, read this book. You won't be disappointed.