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Condominium: 07/17/07


I can remember the opening shot of Barbara Eden (playing Barbara Messenger) floating in the middle of the vast ocean (in a row boat?) of the made for TV movie Condominium (1980). So when I saw a copy of John D. MacDonald's novel of the same name, I had to read it.

Condominium was a departure for MacDonald, who is best known for his Travis McGee series. The book opens with a dedication:

"This book is dedicated to these people who were part of the good years in Sarasota and were washed away:"

and continues on with a long list of names. From the timeline of the book, I'm guessing these people were victims of hurricane Donna (1960).

Condominium is not a novelization of actual events. It does however paint a realistic enough picture of the sorts of things that can go wrong to contribute to as massive a disaster as described in the final pages of this novel. MacDonald doesn't point the finger at just one person making mistakes or cutting corners as the cause. Instead he builds suspense on the knowledge that little mistakes and efforts to cut corners in the interest of saving money add up.

In the middle of all of this are the families, mostly retirees on fixed incomes, who have maxed out their budgets to buy a retire home. With Ian on the board of our local HOA, I sympathized with the HOAs in this novel who struggled to undo the mess the developers left them with on their limited budgets.

Condominium the novel predates the TV movie by three years and is as exciting to read as the film was to watch. I ended up staying up an hour and a half beyond my normal bedtime to finish it. Then I was afraid I'd have nightmares!

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