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Where The Hell Is Tuvalu?: How I became the law man of the world's fourth-smallest country Paperback – 9 Feb 2006
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'A delightful read - sharp and humorous' -- Jonathan Dimbleby
'This witty, honest account just goes to prove it's never too late to jump off that nine-to-five treadmill' -- Daily Mail
A richly funny book, Philip Ells draws wonderful pen pictures of what must have been the experience of a lifetime. -- City to City magazine, June/July 06
How does a young City lawyer end up as the People's Lawyer of the fourth-smallest country in the world, 12,000 kilometres from home? We've all thought about getting off the treadmill, turning life on its head and doing something worthwhile. Philip Ells dreamed of turquoise seas, sandy beaches and palm trees, and he found these in the tiny Pacific island state of Tuvalu. But neither his Voluntary Service Overseas briefing pack nor his legal training could prepare him for what happened there. He learned to deal with rapes, murders, incest, the unforgivable crime of pig theft and to look a shark in the eye. But he never dared ask the octogenarian Tuvaluan chief why he sat immobilised by a massive rock permanently resting on his groin. Well, you wouldn't, would you? This is the story of a UK lawyer colliding with a Pacific island culture. The fallout is moving, dramatic, bewildering and often hilarious.See all Product description
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This book should be compulsory pre-deployment reading for all VSO and UNV Volunteers.
This novel is delightfully British. Ells makes fun of his mistakes with that dry wit that only the British/English manage to convey. He does make quite a few mistakes during his stay on Tuvalu island as the People's lawyer for a group of islands. Not understanding the language and traditions permeating the different groups of people is not an easy thing to conquer.
Ells' fantasy about what his stay would entail come true to a certain extent. The islands are indeed beautiful. And hot. The people are lovely. And violent. Ells gets to defend every crime from pig theft to incest and murder. Women's place in society is harsh. But in the end, what Ells is left with is a love of the people and the land.
It is an engagingly written account that covers Ells' culture shock spending so much time as an Englishman abroad, neatly balancing the personal and light-hearted social problems with the fundamental clashes of ethics and politics.
The cast of characters involved is a little hard to keep track of and Ells' habit of "hinting forward" to things he hasn't written about yet is a little confusing in parts but otherwise it is a very well-written and readable book, and should be read by any Western reader- whether you think you've got it good, or you think your own circumstances are terrible, this book will give you pause for thought.
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