on 9 November 2012
I first read this in the late 50's. It made a lasting impact on me and gave me a vision for a compassionate and engaged society.
Re-reading it after so many years was a joy. Much had been forgotten. Surprisingly the graphic account of octopus hunting - not to be missed. Much remembered especially Arthur's attempt to assist with a breach birth, something no one had prepared him for.
I had also completely forgotten his wife's quiet, constant and courageous support.
This comes from the pen of a man in love with life and able to communicate with diffidence.
on 9 March 2008
I bought this book for 10 pence in a library sale. I had never heard of it before. It is now one of my favourite books.
It describes the adventures of a British diplomat sent to govern a pacific island in the pre-second world war days. Mr Grimble is a very human, compassionate man, with a gentle sense of humour. The world he describes no longer exists, but is nonetheless absorbing. From having to earn the respect of the islanders by catching an octopus by hand, to introducing the rival villages to cricket as a means of settling disputes (which failed when the villagers turn the cricket match into tribal warfare), Mr Grimble's descriptions of island life are wonderful. I lend my copy to everyone I can. Read this.
on 17 August 2011
This is a story of dedication. A very young man nearly graduated in early 1900's, joins the Colonial Office with first appointment to the Gilbert and Ellice Islands on the equator. He is an administrator, policeman and magistrate, "Doctor", amenuensis, husband and father. This mid Pacific location still seems remote but it required a special husband and wife to live there for a mighty number of years. (This is a reminder of why a couple was important to so many jobs. Two for the price of one?)
This story tells how Grimble developed his relationships with the locals to the extent that he underwent painful tattooing with his clans totem! Mind you he had a 15 girl from the tribe whose arms and simulated pain noise allowed him to keep face.
The book may at times be a wee bit heavy anthropologically but it is a great yarn.
on 10 June 2013
If you want to find out what lives of pacific islanders could be before the modern world changed things, Then this book, is for you.
The structure of their society affords some valuable lessons. But there is also a dark side, so not all paradise.
on 6 October 2011
I've rarely, with the exception of Gerald Durrell's books, laughed out loud as often as I did when reading this gem. His description of his first efforts to speak the language of the Gilbert Islands made me hoot with helpless laughter and his obvious affection and admiration for the people he found himself (ostensibly) ruling over is very likeable. More than half a century after he wrote this first memoir I am agog to find out what happened to him next. Seven years 'til he saw his family again? Whatever can have happened?
on 14 November 2014
A real joy to read.I first came across this book many many years ago,and decided to reread it.I was not disappointed in those
memories and this delightful story of the many experiences of a government official at the turn of the twentieth century.Look out
for the sequel,"Return to the Islands".
on 22 August 2014
My English teacher, Dave Wilson, used this book over many years (decades) as a classroom reader. So when i saw it i thought, i will read that again, 40 years on. It is every bit as enchanting as i remember it and a vivid description of the adventurous lives that were available to the sons of Empire.