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Today's quote:

Saturday, June 6, 2009

One of my favourite books

to view some clippings from the Pacific Islands Monthly, click here


Tom Neale (1902-1977) did what we all now and then dream of doing - go and live alone on a desert island. For years he planned, read, talked - until the great day when he was landed on his little kingdom, undismayed by the fact that he would have to struggle with the full strength of body and mind to survive. This is how he starts his story:

"I was fifty when I went to live alone on Suvarov, after thirty years of roaming the Pacific, and in this story I will try to describe my feelings, try to put into words what was, for me, the most remarkable and worthwhile experience of my whole life.
I chose to live in the Pacific Islands because life there moves at the sort of pace which you feel God must have had in mind originally when He made the sun to keep us warm and provided the fruits of the earth for the taking ... "

Continue to read the online book

This book has become a South Seas classic and although Tom Neale is long gone - he died in 1977 and is buried in the cemetery opposite Rarotonga's airport - his memory lives on. Many Rarotongan residents have anecdotes or opinions of him and it seems that his book, which was ghost written, makes him out to be a much more reasonable fellow than he actually was. One person's opinion was that he was so cantankerous that an uninhabited island was the only place for him!

Thanks to Tom, the atoll is now one of the best known in the whole Cook Islands and yachties often call in to look in on Tom's room which is still furnished just as it was when he lived there. Today the island is populated only by a caretaker and his family.