Ted Atoka’s Villa Paradiso is a delightful mixture of really big money, hubris, youth with nothing to lose, senior citizen widows relieved of conventional and expected behaviors, down-home Oklahoma characters and cooking, and dreams of a better life for all. Atoka has managed to mix all these ingredients, sort of like one of the heaping savory dishes delivered to obvious strangers in the booth of a small town café, into a story that addresses the question: what would you do if you knew you were in the beginning stages of early onset Alzheimer’s, had massive amounts of money at your disposal, and were suddenly given the opportunity to buy a run-down rest home in Bowlegs, Oklahoma? Atoka’s main characters—a couple of aging Texas ladies who are multi-millionaires, or more likely multi-billionaires—answer that question easily: buy it, build a beautiful new Villa Paradiso on the site, pull in all the local talent you can find, move down there, and turn the day-to-day operations over to a bunch of kids just out of college then sit back and watch it all work. Or, maybe, blast the vehicles out from under a couple of equipment thieves. Or, perhaps, go to the shooting range with every antique weapon you can find. But most of all turn your personal dreams into new and better lives for a whole lot of rural Oklahoma folks, all deserving and appreciative. The author, who’s obviously been down a dirt road or two, actually shows us what happens when smart people with adequate resources invest wisely, and courageously, in American human capital. If you’re over 50, call ‘em up immediately and reserve your apartment at Villa Paradiso.
Available from Amazon as a paperback and on Kindle.