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Echoing the experiences of Robert Louis Stevenson - who spent several years in the South Pacific - here is the story of a contemporary writer who lived in and came to love the Solomon Islands. Most unexpectedly, Will Randall, once a happy schoolteacher, found himself dispatched to a small village on a not very large island, far out in the vastness of the South Pacific. His mission (although he had hardly chosen to accept it): - to fulfil the dying wishes of the 'Commander' and help the local people set up a money-making community project. The Solomon Islands, islands lost in time - Solomon Time; these little gems of land scattered across the ocean, must be the last sanctuary on our shrivelled planet not yet overshadowed by the Golden Arches or encapsulated in a Coca-Cola bubble. Everyone has dreamed at some time of living on a desert island. Here is the unvarnished truth. Sharks, turtles, a band of unruly chickens, a cast of extraordinary characters, and a bird called the Spangled Drongo, accompany Will Randall through some of the most fascinating and certainly funniest scenes to be found in travel writing since Gerald Durrell.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780349115023
ISBN-10: 0349115028
Format: Paperback
(196mm x 126mm x 20mm)
Pages: 304
Imprint: Abacus
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
Publish Date: 6-Jun-2002
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Other Editions

Reviews

UK Kirkus Review » Will Randall, an inept 30-ish schoolteacher whose lack of life ambition has reached worrying proportions, chucked it all to revive the fortunes of a village in the Solomon Islands. He found himself appointed a one-man Raleigh project by an accident of bad courtship, a dodgy war veteran's will and general spinelessness, and this is the story of how it went. After an overly involved prelude we understand that Will doesn't really want to go to the Solomons. It's just he cannot think of a good reason not to. With tongue set firmly in cheek, his efforts to understand and then help the Solomon Islanders are the point of the book. On the way we get a breezy and thoroughly unscientific lesson in cultural anthropology that is as much about Will's coming-of-middle-age as it is about understanding the strange and Pidgin habits of the Solomons. Apart from trying too hard to do Paul Theroux and Bill Bryson in a fumbling middle-England accent, Randall doesn't do badly. There is incident aplenty, reams of onomatopoeically accented dialogue, and a seemingly endless supply of cultural stereotypes to exploit, ensuring a fair mix of delight, exploration and incredulity. (Kirkus UK)

US Kirkus Review » An English schoolteacher describes his year in the Solomon Islands on a development project. After ten years of teaching French and German to unmotivated students in the West Country, Randall was handed an adventure. A man known as "the Commander" had died; the executors of his estate were looking for someone to travel to his former coconut and cocoa plantation on the Solomon Islands. It had fallen into disrepair, and Randall was hired to come up with a project that would provide income for the villagers to use on community improvements. When he arrives on Mendali, a fishing village reachable only by canoe, he is immediately exposed to "Solomon time . . . a fluid that cannot be contained, that has no master, that sloshes backward and forward and even from side to side . . . schedules and timetables become irrelevancies." What follows is that welcome rarity, a travelogue that does not mock or belittle the locals. Randall is painfully aware that his "mission" is paternalistic and that the Commander was a remnant of the Colonial past. No matter: he sets about learning how to speak Pijin ("Goodfella mornen long yu. Yu oraet?" means "Good morning. Are you well?"), how to paddle a canoe (with disastrous results), and how to fit into his new home. For the development project, Randall and the villagers decide to raise chickens. Several amusing episodes later, the residents open a fast-food stand in the local market and eventually an outlet in town ("Chicken Willy's-Nambawan Nice One"). The resulting funds allow repairs to the church and the installation of a new rainwater tank, among other things. Along the way, the talented Randall writes compellingly of the landscape and the culture, throwing in excerpts from Robinson Crusoe and Robert Louis Stevenson's In the South Seas. A wonderful story and a rare treat for the armchair traveler. (Kirkus Reviews)


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Author Biography - Will Randall

Will Randall is a schoolteacher and writer who is currently working in India on his second book.

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