Sunday, April 25, 2010

Lost Horizon by James Hilton

I read this book a long time ago - in high school. It fascinated me. So, when my book club suggested reading a "classic" book, I decided to re-read it. It wasn't as spellbinding as I remembered, but it still fascinated me. 
Welcome to Shangri-La...high in the distant reaches of the Tibetan mountains where a group of worldly men and women have stumbled upon a land of mystery and matchless beauty, where life is lived in tranquil wonder, beyond the grasp of a doomed world. 

And a great secret is kept hidden.

The plane in which four very different travelers are flying is highjacked and flown with incredible skill over the mountains of Tibet and crashed on a snowy plateau. When the travelers realize they are being highjacked, they spend the flight who, why and where they are going. The pilot is injured in the crash and eventually dies, but not before telling Conway, the calmest one of the bunch, about a lamasery not far from the site. To their astonishment, a troupe of men carrying a hooded chair containing a Chinese man approached them and offered them hospitality. Considering the alternative, they accepted. After a treacherous climb, they came to the lamasery, Shangri-La, which was beside a cone-shaped mountain that seemed to glow like a Blue Moon. A beautiful valley lie below the mountain. They were treated very well. They were amazed at the facilities and the resources contained in lamasery's library. However, they were told that the next group of porters would not arrive for at least two months, so they should make themselves comfortable. Each member of the group reacted differently to that news. Conway found that he enjoyed the chance to have some new experiences. As always, there is one in the group that just wants to get out of there - Mallinson. He was definitely not open to new experiences. He is always trying to come up with a plan to leave. Conway learns the history of the lamasery and its inhabitants. It's quite an amazing history. He and the other two passengers decide to stay for a while to see what happens. Of course, Mallinson is outraged. If you think I have given the plot of the book away, think again. You'll have to read this one to find out all the secrets of Shangri-La. Lost Horizon was published as Pocket Book #1 - the first in a long line of paperback books. It has been made into two films, one in 1937 and one in 1973. There was also an attempt to make it into a Broadway musical, Shangri-La. The Shangri-La Hotels based in Singapore and other Asian cities are based and themed according to Mr. Hilton's paradise. They even give you a complementary copy of the book.

It's a good read.