The Secrets of Shangri-la (Classics Week)
Lost Horizon by James Hilton recounts the adventure of Hugh Conway in a strange and distant land in the '30s. A plane crashes in the mountains of Tibet. Three men and a woman survive, are rescued, and led to a private monastery. The residents of this monastery live in a beautiful setting surrounded by mountains overlooking a rich and abundant valley. This breathtaking place is a sort of Utopia—a Xanadu minus Olivia-Newton John. It is Shangri-la. It’s the ultimate get-away. In this day and age people would pay big bucks for such a remote peaceful setting that has all the modern amenities. They would pay even more if they knew that time almost stands still there. The inhabitants of Shangri-la age very slowly; some are well beyond their golden years and don’t look a day over twenty-nine. I wonder if my sister has been there? She has claimed to be twenty-nine for about a decade.
The four new comers soon find out that this is a kind of Hotel California. You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave; at least that’s what they’re told. The missionary, Miss Roberta Brinklow, has no problem with that. She likes it there and is ready to try her hand at converting the population. American Henry Barnard also is eager to set his roots there. He has a shady past which makes staying all the easier. Captain Charles Mallison, however, is the ansty sort. He wants out. This is a nice place and all, but he’s a busy man and wants to get back to the real world. Hugh Conway is torn. He’s not so sure he wants to settle there forever even though he’s the only one who’s wise to the “longevity” perk. Would I want to stay? I’m not so sure. But I am sure that I’d revisit the book. It was a good read and I truly enjoyed it.
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