Escape: The Heyday of Caribbean Glamour
By Hermes Mallea
Rizzoli, 2014, 256 pp.
With the discerning eye of a professional architect, Mallea takes readers on a sumptuous tour of the exclusive Caribbean homes and resorts where the rich and famous relaxed and partied from the 1920s through the 1980s. Vintage photos capture a tanned Senator John F. Kennedy relaxing in a bathing suit, a stunning Marilyn Monroe honeymooning with Arthur Miller in Jamaica, and young Bianca and Mick Jagger at a costume ball in Mustique. Escape is a handsome coffee-table book—but also much more. The text is remarkably sophisticated, and the archival photographs are wonderfully revealing. Mallea places these glamorous escapes in their historical context: they developed owing to Prohibition in the United States, to political upheaval that drove pleasure seekers to the relative stability of the Caribbean, and to innovative technologies that allowed luxury steamships and trains to transform Havana into “New York’s gayest suburb.” A native of Cuba, Mallea showcases architectural gems that were often designed by leading Western architects and reproduced European styles but that were also embedded in local environments. These flamboyant structures allowed the wealthy to escape the social constraints of home yet remain safely ensconced among fellow elites.