"The White Lake"
The White Lake is a compelling saga of the mid-life ennui which led a foreign correspondent from TIME magazine to start a new life as an intrepreneur in Poland as it emerged, blinking, from five decades of communist rule. After building and opening a luxury lodge on a lake at the end of a dirt road near the Baltic coast, Borrell became a wine importer and distributor and set up Poland’s first mail order wine company. He later created Vestal, a craft vodka exported to a dozen countries and listed in places as prestigious as the Ritz in Paris and the Savoy in London. He also found time to launch a feisty weekly regional newspaper, deploying hard-hitting investigative journalism to probe and expose corruption and malfeasance and hold to account public servants schooled in the devious ways of the communist era.
If that was all there was to the story, it would be a fine book. But Borrell writes elegantly and perceptively about Poland itself. He dips deftly into its history. He observes Poland today with a reporter’s sharp eyed attention to detail. His personal anecdotes add nuance and texture. In the end this is the story of a life well lived and a country well observed.
‘A longtime foreign correspondent abandons journalism and gambles all his savings on Kania Lodge, a boutique hotel beside a pristine lake in Kaszubia in northern Poland. Borrell’s story has a happy ending but only after a long struggle. In order to make good his investment he had to become an active part of the transition to democracy and capitalism that has taken place with varying degrees of success all across Eastern Europe during the past quarter century.’
Anne Applebaum, The Spectator.
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