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Book details
  • Genre:BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY
  • SubGenre:Adventurers & Explorers
  • Language:English
  • Pages:448
  • Format:Paperback
  • Paperback ISBN:9781543932867

From Coffee to Champagne to Coconuts

by Brigitte Kassa

Book Image Not Available Book Image Not Available
Overview
This autobiography, written by Brigitte Kruger Kassa, begins in 1939 in war torn Germany, then details a life lived on a global stage. Leaving her Berlin roots at age 19, Brigitte experienced dangerous encounters with underworld figures before settling in Monte Carlo as manager/ part owner of a gypsi night club frequented by the jet setters and celebrities of the 1960's. Marriage takes Brigitte to New Jersey, USA and her husband's international business requires them to travel to every corner of the world. Brigitte's dream to someday live in a tropical paradise takes her to remote Little Cayman Island in the early 1970's and the balance of the book describes the challenges faced in settling as a pioneer in this tropical island where she continues to reside.
Description
Brigitte Kruger Kassa has lived a life that resembles adventure fiction. This autobiography is a page turner that begins during WW II and continues on a global scale to its conclusion on a small Caribbean island. Born in Berlin in 1939, her early years were spent in war torn Germany. WW II and its aftermath disrupted her family's life and when she was age 19, Brigitte struck out on her own. She survived life threatening challenges before eventually ending up in Monte Carlo as manager / part owner of a gypsi night club. The club was favored by jet setters of the 1960's and clientele included such names as Onassis, Zas Zsa Gabor, and many other famous individuals. " Brigitte met a successful businessman at her club who became her life partner and she moved to his home in New Jersey, USA. His international business took them to virtually every corner of the world and many stories are included in the book of the fascinating people they met. During their courtship, Brigitte told her future husband of her dream to live on a tropical island and as they traveled the world, they began exploring tropical locations. They selected Little Cayman, a remote Caribbean island with no roads, no electricity, and no retail businesses as a place to settle. The balance of the book details the many challenges faced in pioneering settlement in this tropical paradise where Ms. Kassa continues to make her home.
About the author
Born in Berlin, Germany in 1939, Brigitte Kruger Kassa spent her early years in war torn Germany and in 1958, at age 19, struck out on her own. Spending her 20's managing a gypsy night club in Monte Carlo brought her into a circle of jet setting celebrities and acquaintances. Marriage took her to New Jersey and then to Little Cayman, where she became an early 1970's pioneer settler on this idyllic Caribbean island. Ms. Kassa now spends her days writing (having published a children's book titled "Brenetta and Her Menagerie" and an autobiography titled "From Coffee To Champagne To Coconuts"), tending to wildlife on Little Cayman, and gardening.

Book Reviews

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Judith
Kaleidoscope of a Life With many business trips to Berlin in the late 70s and 80s and pleasure visits since, I fell in love with the city. We have also been diving the Caymans (Brac and Little) for a couple decades and derive much pleasure from our time here. Given that, I was very curious when I learned of Brigitte Kassa’s “From Coffee to Champagne to Coconuts” last year since it begins in Berlin and concludes on Little. The title of her memoir concisely captures the tale – as she puts it, the kaleidoscope of her life – in three parts. The thread tying them together is resilience, determination, innovation, and welcoming new experiences. As a child in and near Berlin during and after the war, Brigitte was more “fortunate” than many since she had family to protect her and provide basic necessities. The descriptions of the war’s impact on transportation, food supply, economy, family structures, etc. as seen through her personal situation make the reader wish for more details and the larger context. However, since her mother was almost killed in a bombing raid when she was 5, she last saw her father when she was 2, and the war ended when she was 6, this is understandable. In some ways, her life after the war in Berlin was less pleasant than during it. However, her description of her parents’ and other relatives rebuilding of homes, businesses and relationships is a partial microcosm of West Germany’s recovery. Mrs. Kassa’s description of Monte Carlo as it was before the era of mass tourism is fascinating – as is her account of its downfall. For those who intend to keep traveling as long as they can, her stories of the many trips she and her husband made around the globe will remind of old trips and offer ideas for new destinations. And then there is Little Cayman. The Kassa’s first landing was on a grass airstrip, ours was on gravel, and now macadam. But not yet level. There is still just one grocery store (with most of its products now arriving by barge) but it is much better stocked than in 1973 when the Kassa’s visited and decided to stay on the island. Self-sufficiency was essential – fishing, growing fruits and vegetables since when the store had anything, it was mostly canned goods. Mrs. Kassa’s experiences in post-war Berlin were likely a good foundation for immediately and successfully coping with Little’s idiosyncrasies. The description of the trials and tribulations involved in building a new house is both amusing and admirable. Their electricity was generator driven; the island now has electricity. Then there as a permanent population of 10; now it is 150. There were no resorts, now there are four focused on diving and fishing. Some long-time residents feel that Little may be going the way of Monte Carlo. What has not changed is the mesmerizing multi-hued sea, beautiful sky with scudding white clouds, nights that are quieter and with more stars than anywhere we know. And finally – the photos. Rather than throwing them all together in the middle of the book and leaving it to the reader to remember (or predict) the relevance of each picture, they are placed in the chapter that discusses them. This adds much to the readability and enjoyability of Brigitte Kassa’s memoir. The photos complement the text beautifully. Read more
Elizabeth
From Coffee to Champagne to Coconuts Brigitte Kassa has written a moving memoir. The book reveals so much about how to be a survivor in spite of difficult circumstances. I couldn't wait to get to her next adventure! I've known her for over 30 years and she still maintains her beauty and fun loving spirit. Elizabeth Read more
Brenda
From Coffee To Champagne To Coconuts As a resident of Little Cayman, I was eager to read Brigitte’s book in anticipation of learning more about the history of the island and the challenges endured by its early settlers. What I did not expect was that I would find myself instantly engrossed in the story of Brigitte’s life prior to settling on Little Cayman. My admiration for her has grown after learning of her strength, intuition and tenaciousness. I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to know this inspiring woman. I am impressed by Brigitte's ability to relate her memories in such detail and I am grateful for her willingness to share her story. This is a book to be enjoyed by all who love Little Cayman and it will also be an inspiration to anyone who is struggling to hold onto a dream. Read more
Arlyne
Inspiring- a Real Cinderella Story This story about the life of Brigitte Kassa is inspiring because despite many adversities she realized her dream. Her life on the small Caribbean island of Little Cayman was replete with challenges, including several hurricanes. Brigitte successfully confronted many hurdles. From humble and tragic beginnings, Brigitte's adventurous life led her to a multitude of friends all over the world. Read more
Heidi
From Coffee to Champagne to Coconuts This is an extraordinary book by an incredible woman. It is not fiction, it is the story of her life. A life that she is living to it’s fullest. It is a rare privilege that thanks to her talent as a writer (in a 2nd language, nonetheless! ) and her generosity in sharing her story we are able to have a glimpse at an important time in our history. And then beyond that, what it is like to leave the glamour and intrigue of traveling the world, to becoming a pioneer on a small, sparsely populated Caribbean island. This is an epic story, well worth reading. Read more
Tomas
From Coffee to Champagne to Coconuts This is a great historical novel depicting the life of a German girl who lived through WWII and had an adventurous life with many interesting characters. You pick up the essence of her personality as you encounter few peppered German words throughout the book. One of the things that makes this book interesting is how a person who lived amongst the very rich and famous, sought to live in a spec of an island with conditions that most of us would have considered primitive. Great read! I recommend it! Read more
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