Tag Archives: Tonga

FORGET GREY. BEST BOOKS FOR VALENTINE’S DAY

‘I am Daniel Tahi’ by Lani Wendt Young

‘I am Daniel Tahi’ is a companion novella to Lani Wendt Young’s well-known Telesa series. As it shows Daniel’s point of view, it is written in a very ‘manly’ manner. It’s casual, funny, and…quite hot. You think Christian Grey is a guy for you? That means you haven’t met Daniel Tahi yet. And believe me, you do want to meet him.

‘Sons For The Return Home’ by Albert Wendt

Albert Wendt’s cross-racial love story follows a young student, the son of Samoan migrants, who falls for a pakeha girl. Amidst the troubles and difficulties, the two lovers discover the world of intimacy and relationships, quickly realizing that it’s not always easy to love someone from a different culture. The plot of this book is filled with desire, lust, sexual tension, and…overwhelming longing for what’s not there but could be.

‘Conquered’ by Paula Quinene

This historical erotic romance revolves around Jesi, a young Chamorro girl who, in the most dramatic circumstances, meets the man of her dreams. The story will make your heart beat a bit faster than usual, and the couple’s intense relationship will make you green with envy…or red in the face (if you know what I mean).

The Scarlet Series by Lani Wendt Young

Sometimes girls just wanna have fun, right? And, trust me, no one does it better than Scarlet, the main character in the series. Especially when a very handsome man appears on the horizon. Although this very enjoyable book may seem light-hearted on the surface, it has a real plot full of secrets. And if you’re looking for some romance, you will definitely find it here!

‘A Farm in the South Pacific Sea’ by Jan Walker

This title is a little more ‘serious’, more ‘mature’. It recounts a true story of June von Donop, who comes to the Kingdom of Tonga to find a purpose in life but ends up finding her true soulmate (while at the same time having a romance with a young Tongan man). This is the most beautiful love story, told with great passion, that you’ll want to reread as soon as you finish the last sentence.

BEST BOOKS BASED ON PACIFIC MYTHS, LEGENDS, FOLK TALES

The Telesa Trilogy by Lani Wendt Young

This highly acclaimed series is a modern take on Pacific mythology, which makes it a perfect read for teenagers.

The thrilling story of Leila Folger is a passionate romance based on the legends of Teine Sa, the spirit women of Samoa. The popular ancient beliefs are masterfully incorporated into the narrative – they constitute a considerable part of the story, yet they are not overwhelming.

The trilogy may be perfect for juvenile audiences, but you’ll love it even if you’re past your teenage years!

‘Sirena: A Mermaid Legend from Guam’ by Tanya Taimanglo

The story of Sirena, Guam’s legendary mermaid, is so well-known in the Pacific region that there is probably not a single person who wouldn’t be acquainted with it. This is one of the reasons why every Pasifika aficionado should read, and possess, Tanya Taimanglo’s book.

This particular retelling of the famous folk tale is a real beauty. Embellished with the most gorgeous illustrations – created by the author’s brother, Sonny Chargualaf – it will be an absolute treasure in your home library. Plus, it will definitely draw children’s attention!

‘Princess Hina & the Eel’ by King Kenutu

This is another wonderful book, especially for older children and teenagers.

The story of genuine, eternal love between a princess and a commoner is one of the better-known folk tales in Polynesia. It is captivating, thought-provoking, and timeless in its message. King Kenutu’s version is not only beautifully told but also full of passion that can be felt in each and every word.

The Niuhi Shark Saga by Lehua Parker

Lehua Parker’s saga is a brilliant example of engaging middle grade/young adult literature that’s deeply rooted in the local Polynesian mythology.

Although the series is not based on one particular myth, legend, or folk tale, it draws inspiration from old Hawaiian stories of a shapeshifting shark-man, Nanaue. It is not a retelling of the legend, but you may certainly find some similarities. Who knows, maybe Zader’s adventures will encourage you to delve into ancient tales from the Aloha State…

‘Turtle Songs: A Tale for Mothers and Daughters’ by Margaret Wolfson

This book tells the ancient Fijian myth – especially popular on the island of Kadavu – about the Turtle princess and her daughter.

It’s a classic retelling, gracefully narrated and adorned with lovely – absolutely lovely – watercolours. The illustrations make the story come alive before the reader’s eyes, so even young children will read or listen to this tale with great interest.

ON THE TWELFTH DAY OF … MY TRUE LOVE SENT TO ME:

‘Princess Hina and the Eel’ by King Kenutu

Who doesn’t know this old folktale? The enduringly popular story can be regarded as a Polynesian equivalent of ‘Romeo & Juliet’. Or rather… ‘Romeo & Juliet’ should be treated as an English equivalent of ‘Princess Hina and the Eel’.

In the South Pacific kingdom, two people fall deeply in love with each other. One of them is the beloved daughter of the king; the other – a simple commoner. Although their hearts are meant to be together, cruel fate starts to play its part.

This is such a beautiful, moving, and thought-provoking tale! Fantastic for children, teenagers, and adults alike – because we are never too young or too old to learn what’s the greatest value in life.

ON THE SIXTH DAY OF … MY TRUE LOVE SENT TO ME:

‘Sandalwood Blood’ by Sam Lala

Sam Lala’s book, although a work of fiction, familiarizes readers with the sandalwood trade in the Pacific region.

The story takes place in the 19th century. Captain Lovat Mellon travels to Fiji with hopes of collecting sandalwood for the Chinese market. Accompanied by other passengers of the ship, he sails the high seas, making occasional stops at various ports. One of them are the islands of Tonga.

This is such a good book! Captivating right from the very first page, it is perfect for both men and women. It’s a beautifully written love story, a gripping adventure tale, and an extremely informative history lesson that really gets you hooked.

ON THE SECOND DAY OF … MY TRUE LOVE SENT TO ME:

‘A Farm in the South Pacific Sea’ by Jan Walker

If you need a little romance during Christmastime, this is a perfect title!

Jan Walker presents readers with a story of June Sandusky, an American businesswoman who moves to Tonga in order to start a spiny lobster nursery. Although life in the South Pacific is far from uncomplicated, she enjoys every day spent in this tropical paradise. Especially when she finds a man who turns out to be her soulmate.

This is a book for emotionally mature audiences (definitely not for teenagers) who can appreciate the value of true love. Jan Walker beautifully described the experiences her cousin, June von Donop, had had in the Kingdom of Tonga. Terrific piece of literature!

BEST READ-MORE-THAN-ONCE BOOKS

‘Scar of the Bamboo Leaf’ by Sieni A.M.

This incredible story of love between a physically-flawed artist girl and a troubled, misunderstood boy is nothing short of – I dare to say – a masterpiece.

Right from the very first page, the novel grabs your attention and doesn’t let go. A few chapters later, it touches your heart and starts messing with your feelings. The next thing you know, you’re officially hooked. Lush Samoan settings; more than believable characters; well-written, well-paced, thoroughly engaging narrative; words that make you think. What more could you wish for? It is a stunning book. Complex, poignant, thought-provoking, deeply moving. Just beautiful.

‘We Are the Ocean’ by Epeli Hauʻofa

This is an exquisite collection of exquisite essays, public lectures, and poems, in which Epeli Hauʻofa shares his thoughts concerning Pasifika – the great sea of islands.

Written with passion and genuine love for Oceania, the publication can be regarded as unique – truly unique – teaching material. It informs and educates. It enlightens. It inspires. The author’s words, opinions, and ideas are of great significance and should definitely be pondered upon. What can I say, this book is a keeper!

‘Attitude 13: A Daughter of Guam’s Collection of Short Stories’ by Tanya Taimanglo

Tanya Taimanglo’s tales offer a rare and most fascinating glimpse into the lives of various Chamorro people, who try to reconcile their traditions and heritage with modernity.

Even if you read this book hundreds of times, you always discover something new: an inspirational passage, a conveyed between the lines message, a hidden meaning of the story. The narratives are a great reminder of those eternal truths we tend to forget. But, most importantly, they are also a sheer delight to read. Beautifully written, embellished with vivid imagery and a gentle sense of humour, they take you on a wonderful journey to the island of Guam. And – I should mention this – it’s a journey you don’t want to end.

‘Sons for the Return Home’ by Albert Wendt

This story of a cross-racial romance between a Samoan student at Auckland University and a girl from a wealthy pālagi family is one of the most important works in the history of Pacific Literature.

It is a cleverly constructed page-turner, which keeps you riveted from the very first to the very last sentence. Most likely, it is the result of Albert Wendt’s terse, unornamented writing style – thoroughly charming (oh yes, it is charming!) and totally unique. With this ‘shortness’, this lack of descriptive language the author gets right to the point, making the novel all the more powerful. One of the best reads ever; absolutely.

‘Tales of the South Pacific’ by James A. Michener

A Pulitzer Prize-winning book must be extraordinary. And this collection of interconnected stories about World War II certainly is.

Michener’s novel is an emotional roller-coaster ride; thrilling, quite nerve-racking, at times disturbing. And yet it makes you want to come back for more. The war-torn ‘paradise’, the complex characters, the South Seas atmosphere… Some say it’s a good book. I say it’s truly a literary classic. James Michener at his best.

JUST HOW FRIENDLY ARE THE FRIENDLY ISLANDS?

It was James Cook who first named Tonga ‘the Friendly Islands’. It happened in 1773, during his second Pacific voyage. The British explorer was so impressed by the warm welcome he had received in the village of Lifuka that he immediately coined an appropriate nickname for the country. What he didn’t know then was that the native Tongans had actually planned to kill him and his crew. They didn’t succeed as they were busy arguing on how to do it best.  But that’s just a tiny, little detail not even worth mentioning…

Today, if you want to visit the islands, you don’t have to worry – no one is going to kill you. Actually, the moment you’ll find yourself amongst Tongans, you’ll feel like a member of a big family.

Yes, those people radiate warmth and friendliness, but they need to be given a slight encouragement. Initially, they may appear shy, reserved or even harsh. But throw them a smile, and they will immediately open up. In the blink of an eye you will be welcomed into the local community. They will treat you like someone who belongs to that place. And you will never feel lonely again. It is anga faka-Tonga, the Tongan way of life.

Islanders give and share. Whatever they possess or own – be it food, personal items or even valuables – is regarded as common good. They will gladly ‘lend’ you anything you want. Just because you asked; or said you liked it. It’s always nice to do the same, although Tongans don’t expect any gifts. Selfless givers; that’s who they are. What really matters to them is a relationship with another human being. Material things always come second. Nevertheless, they may mention, from time to time, that your cap or that piece of jewellery you wear is very nice… Well, it is anga faka-Tonga, the Tongan way of life.

Speaking of sharing… Tongans are extremely hospitable, even towards strangers. Visitors are welcomed at all times. Upon entering the house, they are honoured with the best seats. During the meals, they are served first while the hosts usually sit, watch and wait, asking occasionally if anything else is needed. When leaving, guests are given a small present. Such generosity is a sign of respect. And respect, as well as kindness to other people, are key values in the culture of this South Pacific kingdom. Putting it simply, it is anga faka-Tonga, the Tongan way of life.

Do you think I’ve painted a rosy picture here? Hold on, there’s even more. Tongans laugh. Constantly. At almost everything. And that laughter is infectious. It takes away all the sorrows and brings happiness and bliss instead. In times of crisis, in times of disasters, in times of pain – those people are joyful. For they know they can count on their brothers and sisters. Always. This is the rule: you never desert your family and friends; you support them, you help them, you back them up. And you never look down on anybody. No matter who that person is. As you can see, humility, modesty and genuine love can still be found somewhere in this world.

No, this is not some utopian community that I’ve just described. It’s quite real. It is… anga faka-Tonga, the Tongan way of life.

Such are the Friendly Islanders. It then comes as no surprise that the true winner of the Winter Olympics in Sochi was Fuahea Semi, or Bruno Banani, as he is now known. Not only did this Tongan luger impress people all over the globe with his fantastic performance, but he also won their hearts with his strong character, great attitude and a truly amazing personality. I don’t think you can ever find a nicer, more humble and more likable athlete; or a person, for that matter. Well… It is anga faka-Tonga, the Tongan way of life. And he is the pure quintessence of it.

‘WHEN WATER BURNS’ BY LANI WENDT YOUNG

‘When Water Burns’, penned by Lani Wendt Young, is the second book in the Telesa trilogy. It brings back the story of Leila Folger and her incredible journey as the Goddess of Fire.

WHEN WATER BURNS

Summary

After the death of Nafanua and her sisters, The Covenant Sisterhood no longer exists. The only one that survived is Sarona, who, being completely alone, poses no threat to Leila and Daniel. The two lovers can finally lead a normal life. Or so they think.

While Daniel is recovering from the battle with vicious sisters, Leila is back in the Washington D.C. to be with her dying grandmother. Before her death, the old lady reveals a shocking secret to her granddaughter, which leaves the young girl utterly shattered. Despite her family’s objections, Leila decides to go back to Samoa.

Back on the island, she starts university, moves to a new house together with Simone, and finds out that she is the sole beneficiary of Nafanua’s will. She chooses to accept the inheritance, much to Sarona’s frustration.

Leila’s life seems almost ideal. She is happy in Samoa, has quite a few friends and a loving boyfriend. Her relationship with Daniel flourishes as they get to know each other better and better every day. But nothing lasts forever and there are dark clouds on the horizon. Daniel learns the truth about his past, Leila meets mysterious Keahi, and Sarona is back in the game.

Review

The problem with sequels is that they hardly ever live up to the originals. But let me tell you, this novel is just as good as its predecessor. It is even more action-packed and full of surprising twists and turns you definitely won’t foresee. What is more, it is set not only is Samoa, but also in Tonga and Hawaii, so you’ll get to know more about all those fantastic places.

As Leila’s story evolves, it also gets a little bit darker. This volume is certainly less light-hearted than the first one. It addresses some serious and difficult subjects: sexual assaults, abuse, domestic violence. They are particularly prominent in the very touching prologue, which, despite being a great introduction to what a reader can expect, may be hard to get through for some people.

But of course, there are occasional bouts of humour among this gloominess, especially when Simone takes the stage. As a flamboyant fa’afafine, he is the most hilarious character with a truly extraordinary personality. And it is absolutely fantastic that he plays a bigger part in this book.

All the other characters are much more mature and grown up compared to the first novel. Leila is not a teenager anymore. She is a young woman who knows how to fight for her life. She is determined to succeed and is not afraid of what may happen in the future. Daniel, on the other hand, has finally come into his own. As he discovers his gifts, he becomes more independent. He starts to be ‘Daniel’ and not just ‘Leila’s boyfriend’; but he still remains that sweet and loving boy everyone knew. Keahi is a new introduction. He is an inscrutable person with a painful past. Because of his secrets, he adds extra spice to the whole story.

‘When Water Burns’ is a great novel. Without a doubt it is just as good as ‘Telesa:
The Covenant Keeper’, which, by the way, you should read if you haven’t done it yet. Brilliant storyline, good pace, intense action. The sequel is a bit darker and serious (but still incredibly funny!), so I would say it’s best for emotionally mature people. I highly recommend it.

A CHAT WITH… JAN WALKER

Have you already read ‘A Farm in the South Pacific Sea’? This fantastic book was written by Jan Walker – an incredibly talented and very warm person. She was kind enough to answer a few questions about her South Sea tale. Here’s what she had to say…

JAN WALKER

Pasifika Tales: Jan, why did you decide to write ‘A Farm in the South Pacific Sea’?

Jan Walker: My cousin June, the protagonist in the book, and I made the decision when I visited her on Maui in 1984. She knew I had two nontraditional textbooks for incarcerated adults about to be published by a small publishing company, and she’d read other material I’d written over the years. She wanted her story told and believed I could write it. During that visit, June told me her Tonga journals had been lost. She’d given them to her older sister who was allegedly contracting with a writer in the Chicago area to recreate and publish June’s story as nonfiction.

June was devastated by the loss of the journals, by her sister’s excuses for the writer who allegedly misplaced them, and by the final conclusion that the story really wouldn’t sell anyway; there just wouldn’t be enough interest in the U.S. I understood my cousin’s anger and sorrow. Her health was already in decline so we started developing a timeline for the Tonga years. She dug through files for stories she’d written in an attempt to reconstruct her adventure, and for any correspondence she had from that time. I carried a large stack of papers back to the mainland with a promise to begin background research. It was intense, time consuming work. Still, June wanted me to do the writing no matter how long it took.

PT: Did you have any doubts or second thoughts?

JW: Yes, many doubts. How could I write about the Kingdom of Tonga, a place I’d never been with a government unlike anything I’d experienced? How could I write about scuba diving? How could I portray June as the strong, independent woman I knew her to be so that came through for readers?

As those doubts were dispelled, I still wondered if writing about a living king and several other living people was proper. June understood that. She wanted a completed story that she could read and share with a few people. I achieved that for her well before her death in 1994. After she died, I put the manuscript in a box and wrote other books. When I learned of King Tupou IV’s death in 2006, I started rewriting the book for publication. The kingdom went through a tumultuous time, as characters in my book had predicted. As you might guess, it was June who informed me of those predictions, but I attributed them to a native character in the book.

PT: Where did you draw your inspiration from?

JW: From June and her personal strengths, first, but also from extensive research. I had a sense that she could be a small voice for the people living on remote islands in the vast South Pacific Sea.

I also believe that the abuses and losses she suffered through her life could be shown as part of her life without making her appear to be a pitiful victim, but rather a strong female survivor. I taught adult felons inside medium security prisons and maximum security units. I have studied victimizers and victims, and worked with them to help them make healthy choices as they do their time and work toward release back to their families and communities. Perhaps that work served as part of my inspiration.

PT: It must have been hard to write about someone else’s life. What was the writing process like for you?

JW: Yes, it is difficult to write about someone else’s life. I knew the book would have to be a fictionalized account of June’s adventure to provide me author freedom to create. I wrote an extensive backstory of her life prior to her Tonga adventure. Also, I created lists of everything I would need to know about the South Pacific and set up files and cross reference guides. I read extensively and amassed a large file of photocopied material.

June gave me photo albums that included pictures of her Mango Island fale (house), the church and school, the in-sea farm site, and many pictures of the people. Most of the pictures were taken with a Polaroid camera and have faded. To say the photos helped me write the story and describe settings and scenes would be an understatement.

PT: Did June give you any advice?

JW: She often told me to write more sex scenes, both loving and forced. She often said: ‘Sex sells.’ We argued about that off and on over the years. I wanted to draw on the depths of her character. She talked at times about the problems she’d encountered through life from the onset of puberty. She was very attractive; she often got unwanted attention from men in all facets of her life. In the end, she found the way I handled her sexuality an appropriate balance for the story.

PT: Speaking of your cousin and her incredible story … How much of the novel is true, and how much is pure fiction?

JW: This is all true: estrangement from her father from age 9 to full adulthood due to her mother divorcing him, taking June from their Chicago home but leaving June’s older sister behind; lifelong conflict with her controlling mother; June’s three marriages, the first at 17 and its events that are revealed near the end of the book; the man she loved who died in England; the reason the second and third marriages failed; learning to pilot small planes; ownership of an apartment building in Seattle; working in shipyards in Seattle and then with Morrison-Knudsen, civil engineers, in San Francisco; leaving Seattle to live in Hawaii after her third divorce and the brief look at that life; the Hawaii dive that opens the book; her search for a place to try in-sea spiny lobster farming and her connections to research laboratories in Florida and Australia; her arrival in Nuku’alofa and her stay at Beach House; meeting the man I call Tavita and traveling to the Ha’apai on his boat; all the events that occur on that trip; and the events as they unfold over the years in Tonga. The Fiji story is absolutely true.

I exaggerated parts of the post Tonga romance. The man I call Tavita outlived June. He and I corresponded at length after her death. Her health was seriously impaired shortly after she returned to Hawaii, when she was living on Maui. She heard a small plane’s engine failing and saw the plane plunge into the ocean near Lahaina. She yelled to someone nearby to call for help, then plunged into the water and swam to the plane where she helped the struggling pilot get out of his seat harness. She kept his head above water until help arrived. Remember, she’d had a punctured and collapsed lung for the Fiji ordeal, and damage from smoking since her teen years. That taxed her lungs so severely that she had to start using oxygen. She was treated for the rest of her life for COPD. She developed breast cancer that couldn’t be treated due to her already failing health.

PT: Let me ask you about other characters. Have you met any of the people that are portrayed in the book?

JW: I didn’t meet but did correspond with the woman I call Betty Peace Corps in the book. The man I call Tomasi did move to Los Angeles. He remained in touch with June, so she knew he fathered several children. I corresponded with two of the three ‘little Junies,’ as she called them. Tavita had helped her stay in touch with them. She transmitted money to them through him. He helped them with purchasing cars and paying education fees. I saw the relationship they maintained through the years as a love story of an important sort. They lived out their lives in two different worlds, each with personal struggles.

PT: The ending of the story is extremely emotional and I do believe everyone would love to know what happened afterwards. Could you tell us a bit more not only about June, but also about people she met during her time in the Kingdom of Tonga?

JW: June returned first to Honolulu and continued to work with the seafood company there as they explored in-sea farming ventures. She did bookkeeping for a clinic that assisted abuse victims. She stayed in touch with the families on Mango Island, collected clothing and other items they requested and shipped them out three or four times a year. She grieved deeply when the character I call Rosie Jamieson – Beach House owner, died. As noted above, she stayed in touch with the Tongan Junes, and dispersed funds to them through Tavita. She followed Tongan news, and always had tidbits about the king.

She moved to Oahu shortly after the pilot rescue on Maui. I visited her at least twice a year for the last ten years of her life. June didn’t travel far from her apartment in those years. She hated being seen in public with oxygen tubes in her nostrils.

PT: Let’s focus on Pasifika for a moment. The way you described Tonga is simply amazing. Have you had a chance to visit the islands?

JW: I have not visited Tonga, except through June’s eyes and our conversations, and through extensive reading. June’s photos helped. Visiting remote places on Maui, Oahu and the big island of Hawaii helped me imagine life on Tongatapu and Mango Islands. I would love to visit Tonga one day to see what I might have described differently.

PT: I know you’ve been to Hawaii a couple of times. What are your thoughts on the Blue Continent?

JW: Actually, I’ve been to Hawaii too many times to count. How can I answer that in a few words? I grew up near, and still live near Puget Sound, an inlet of the Pacific Ocean. I have view of the Sound, and Mount Rainier in the distance, from my home, and easy access to the beach. I also visit ocean beaches in Washington, Oregon and California quite regularly. I respect and revere the sea—all seas.

I worry about damaged coral reefs, bombed out atolls, depleted vegetation on remote islands, rogue nets entangling sea creatures. I believe the peoples of every land touched by the sea must share their love of their place by caring for it and sharing their stories. I believe the power of stories is as profound as the power of the seas.

‘A FARM IN THE SOUTH PACIFIC SEA’ BY JAN WALKER

‘A Farm in the South Pacific Sea’ recounts a true story of the author’s cousin, June von Donop, who had lived in the Kingdom of Tonga in the late 1960s and early 1970s. All the events described in the book are based on June’s personal journals and countless conversations the two women held.

A FARM IN THE SOUTH PACIFIC SEA

Summary

In 1967, American businesswoman, June Sandusky, decides to move to Tonga in order to start a spiny lobster nursery and forget about her difficult past: three failed marriages, a rocky relationship with her mother, and the death of a loved one during the World War II.

Soon upon her arrival she discovers that the South Pacific islands are not quite the paradise she hoped for. While native Tongans seem very friendly and welcoming, they are not pleased with her being an entrepreneurial woman. But the men’s opposition makes June even more determined to succeed.

With a little help from the warm-hearted people, she finds a perfect location for her farm. She arrives on Mango Island and instantly chooses the place as her new home. She hires a carpenter to build a house for her – a traditional palm frond fale with nice kitchen cupboards, Dutch doors, and wooden-framed beds.

As time goes by, June becomes accustomed to the new surroundings. She works in her nursery, has fun with her friends, finds a lover and a man who turns out to be her true soulmate. But life is no fairytale and June learns that nothing lasts forever.

Review

This is a truly wonderful book that takes readers on an unforgettable adventure to the South Pacific region. June’s experiences, chronicled brilliantly by Jan Walker, stir emotions to such an extent that you will literally have to pause every few chapters to calm your racing heart. This is, of course, the result of the story itself – highly engaging, but not easy to read. Some people may find it a little bit hard to get through the beginning. Long, detailed descriptions and lack of action can definitely make the narrative appear mundane. However, let me assure you, it gets better and better with every page. What is more, once you get to the end, you will most likely want to read it again.

Strong plot is supported by mature, well-developed, and more than believable characters: ambitious and independent June, caring Tavita, family-oriented Tomasi, somewhat bossy but helpful Mary, determined to make a difference Ana’alisi, and many more who are just as good. They are all different and they all have their vices and virtues. Their world, although dubbed ‘the tropical island paradise’, is not picture perfect. Love is sacred and painful at the same time; happiness mixes with sorrow; troubles lurk around every corner. This is the real life – sometimes you just have to fight; even if you are surrounded by marvelous lagoons, sandy beaches, and crystal-clear blue waters. I guess this is the reason why all these characters seem so incredibly authentic.

‘A Farm in the South Pacific Sea’ is not just a novel based on actual events. It is a story of passion, strength, courage, love, desire, and friendship. It broaches the subjects of gender roles and women’s rights in various cultures, providing valuable insights into these issues. Jan Walker addresses discrimination, domestic violence, sexual harassment with surprising bravery. Her words may be quite enraging to read – a few of the scenes are profoundly disturbing – but it can’t be denied that they are deeply thought-provoking and thus worth pondering on.

I do recommend this book. Wholeheartedly! You may shed a few tears at the end, you may laugh a few times at the beginning. Whatever your emotions, June’s adventure will surely touch your heart and soul. But, bear in mind that this is not a light-hearted romance. Neither is this a novel for young adults.