‘Bula: An Englishman in Fiji’ is a collection of short stories written by Beau Bosworth. All the tales are based on real-life happenings, however the author’s involvement in these events is often fictional.
After being transferred to Fiji, Beau Bosworth tries to adjust to his new environment. He meets a variety of people, both local residents and foreign tourists, with whom he shares his Pacific experience.
Sanjay, a very nice taxi driver, is the first person Beau encounters upon his arrival, when he gets mistaken for Mr Bobo Worth at Nadi Airport. After that, he becomes a witness to a theft, an ‘expert translator’ of the German language, and a temporary guardian of his boss’s son – ever-so-charming but extremely trouble-prone Duncan.
Let me just state something here: the book is short; very short; too short. It comprises six stories (yes, only six short stories), so the truth is, it ends before it really starts. And this is very unfortunate, because Bosworth’s narratives are so engaging that you definitely wouldn’t mind a double (or even a triple) portion.
Some of the tales are obviously better than the others. The most compelling one is, without the slightest doubt, ‘The Charmer’. It follows the adventures of Duncan, a young man completely unaware of local customs, who happens to be Beau’s boss’s son. Not only is this story highly amusing but also extremely educational. It explains Fijian traditions, ceremonies, and practices, giving you a fascinating insight into the world of unknown culture. If the author had made an effort and added more little-known facts regarding Fijian etiquette, the compilation would have been a dream come true for any Pasifika and/or travel literature lover.
Now, even though short, the book is nicely written. It is not mind-blowing but decent enough to be regarded as worthy of attention. Bosworth’s prose is clear and simple and thus very inviting. It has a really good pace and rhythm – as a reader you are not bored even for a split second. It doesn’t lack vivid descriptions (some parts do capture the imagination), it doesn’t lack sense of humour (a few stories are hilariously funny) – basically, it has all the vital ingredients a nice travel book should have.
Taking the above into account, I would say it is a neatly constructed, lucidly written page-turner definitely deserving to be read. You won’t regret engrossing yourself in Beau Bosworth’s tales. I’m quite positive that along the way you will not only have a great time but also get to know a few interesting things about the islands of Fiji.