Married to Melanesia
- Available for pre-order on June 14, 2023. Item will ship after July 5, 2023
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‘We were married after three years at opposite ends of the world…. We then, too rapidly for comfort, made off in a snowstorm for the South Seas…. All this we imprudently did in our late forties.’ Thus Muriel Jones introduces her account, originally published in 1974, of how she came to start her married life in the Solomon Islands, ‘whose impact was traumatic, perhaps just because we were not in our first youth or innocent of other tropical experience’.
‘St Peter’s College was the only thing at Siota’; there was no store and the only post office on the island ‘was so difficult of access that I never visited it … we ourselves did most of the postal business – quite informally – at our end of the island’. It is not surprising that even high-ranking visitors tended to arrive looking like ship-wrecked sailors. ‘If one was ill enough to see a doctor one was, on the whole, too ill to be subjected to several hours of sun or rain in an open boat and a probable night en route.’ There is, too, the account of the old lady whose family, on her death, wanted to bury her in a coffin instead of the customary mat. ‘Poor old lady; at the end of all these exertions, the coffin with her in it stood in the church for the funeral, uneasily supported on two rickety small tables from our sitting room, mutely exhorting us to STOW AWAY FROM BOILERS.’
Muriel Jones tells the unusual story of her five Melanesian years, of the impact of Christianity on a pagan people, of her husband’s college and its move to another island, of the students, the islands and their animals and exotic vegetation, of the islanders (nine-tenths of whom live in communities ranging from twenty to two hundred people) and of their changing way of life. Her story takes one about as far as it is possible to go from an urban civilisation and in telling it she reveals the resources of her own character.
Table of Contents
1. South Seas Impact 2. Siota 3. Mother, Father and Aunt Jane 4. David 5. Moving 6. New Home 7. Students 8. Friends and Neighbours 9. Religion 10. Beasts 11. Botanical 12. ‘In Journeyings Oft …’ 13. Honiara 14. Change.