This is the true story of a trip to the beach that never ends. It's about a husband and wife who escape civilization to build a small restaurant on an island paradise -- and discover that even paradise has its pitfalls. It's a story filled with calamities and comedy, culinary disasters and triumphs, and indelible portraits of people who live and work on a sliver of beauty set in the Caribbean Sea. It's about the maddening, exhausting, outlandish complications of trying to live the simple life -- and the joy that comes when you somehow pull it off.
The story begins when Bob and Melinda Blanchard sell their successful Vermont food business and decide, perhaps impulsively, to get away from it all. Why not open a beach bar and grill on Anguilla, their favorite Caribbean island? One thing leads to another and the little grill turns into an enchanting restaurant that quickly draws four-star reviews and a celebrity-studded clientele eager for Melinda's delectable cooking. Amid the frenetic pace of the Christmas "high season," the Blanchards and their kitchen staff -- Clinton and Ozzie, the dancing sous-chefs; Shabby, the master lobster-wrangler; Bug, the dish-washing comedian -- come together like a crack drill team. And even in the midst of hilarious pandemonium, there are moments of bliss.
As the Blanchards learn to adapt to island time, they become ever more deeply attached to the quirky rhythms and customs of their new home. Until disaster strikes: Hurricane Luis, a category-4 storm with two-hundred-mile-an-hour gusts, devastates Anguilla. Bob and Melinda survey the wreckage of their beloved restaurant and wonder whether leaving Anguilla, with its innumerable challenges, would be any easier than walking out on each other. Affectionate, seductive, and very funny, A Trip to the Beach is a love letter to a place that becomes both home and escape.
About the Author
Married for nearly thirty years, Melinda and Robert Blanchard divide their time between Norwich, Vermont, where they built their own home, and the Caribbean island of Anguilla, where they operate Blanchard's Restaurant. Together they have started eight businesses, including Blanchard and Blanchard, the award-winning line of specialty foods. Bob is a seventh-generation Vermonter and Melinda was born and raised in New York City.
I was born January 26th 1969, Geneva Switzerland. I always say my parents hit the perfect trifecta. I am an Aquarian, born not only in the year and age of Aquarius, but in the country that stands for peace! This mix in turn created my wonderful and adventurous life. My father is American as American can get, minus the French last name. He was born In D.C. Joined the Army after high school and eventually entered the Special Forces. where he did two tours in Vietnam. His father (unfortunately we never met) was Colonel in the Marines. Graduated Annapolis, 1923, Navy cross recipient and fought in both the European and Pacific theaters during WWII. My beautiful mother was born in Venezuela and went to high school in New Jersey where they met and eventually got married and had my much taller brother and I. After a small stint in Florence Italy then Puerto Rico, I ended up in Caracas, Venezuela. I studied at the British School until 5th grade, then was sent to San Antonio military academy in Texas. After three years, I did one year at the Oxford academy in Oxford Connecticut and finished high school in North Miami, Florida. I ended up at Regis College (now University) in Denver Colorado and did my Masters in Architecture at C.U. (University of Colorado). So how did I get into writing. Well, it is in my blood! My mother was a closet writer and my brother started off with poetry until publishing his self help book 'You Have Chosen To Remember'. So naturally, brothers being brothers, I had to one up him and publish my own book... I always have people ask me how I came to write this novel. And to tell the truth I have been writing it all my life. I was always somewhere else in my mind. In my kindergarden report card it stated that I am a day dreamer and I needed to focus. Who knew I was slowly building the foundation that eventually led here! The turning point for me was one summer as I took a creative writing class in the university, the assignment was to use sexual metaphor in a story, I wrote about my first time flying. That Friday as we all left the class room, the teacher (she was only a few years older) held me back and praised my short story, then asked me out on a date. Writing is a powerful tool!
Married for nearly thirty years, Melinda and Robert Blanchard divide their time between Norwich, Vermont, where they built their own home, and Anguilla, where they operate Blanchard's Restaurant. Together they have started eight businesses, including Blanchard & Blanchard, the award-winning line of specialty foods. Bob is a seventh-generation Vermonter, and Melinda was born and raised in New York City.
"A Trip to the Beach is the next best thing to being there. The Blanchards have given us a smart and amusing tale of running off to chase a dream. It's just as tasty as their cooking."
-- Tom Brokaw, Anchor, NBC Nightly News
"If you think it takes courage to open and operate a fine dining restaurant, just try doing it the Blanchard way. Pick a beautiful but remote island with cultural idiosyncrasies, build it from scratch, make it seasonal to assure up and down business, and subject yourself to the most powerful hurricanes Mother Nature knows how to create. Other than that, it's easy. I love the Blanchards' determined sense of hospitality and appreciate the rich texture they have woven into Anguilla's colorful fabric."
-- Danny Meyer, Coauthor, The Union Square Cafe Cookbook