Tag Archives: Robert Borden

GREAT SUMMER READS (2018)

‘Don’t Walk Under the Coconuts’ by Robert Borden

Fed up with bitter Montana winters, Robert and Mary Lou are determined to find a nice place in the tropics they could escape to when temperatures in their home state drop below zero. A little island in the Cooks seems to be a natural choice.

While in paradise, the couple starts to enjoy the simplest things in life. With no rush, no stress, and no schedule to keep, they can do exactly what and when they want.

This is such a perfect read for all those lazy summer days! Its slow pace and beautiful descriptions will make you want to leave everything behind and travel to your own ‘slice of heaven’. Robert Borden definitely knows how to create a summer ambience. He is a born storyteller, so if you are in need of a good tale, this is a book for you.

‘Aged In Saltwater: A Journey Through the Pacific Islands’ by R. K. “Dick” Williams

When Dick is asked if he’s interested in a sail to the South Pacific, he simply can’t say ‘no’. Sailing across the Blue Continent just must be a great adventure, right? Especially for a 22-year-old man.

On board the Blue Orpheus, Dick learns what it really means to be at sea. Enduring harsh weather conditions, going through life-or-death crises, and dealing with unexpected and often unwanted situations is a thrust into adulthood few people experience.

Adventure-lovers will love this travelogue. It’s an exciting, thrilling piece of literature that will keep any reader on the edge of their seat; a white-knuckle ride on the high seas, told with humour, wit, and a generous dose of honesty.

‘Waking Up in Eden: In Pursuit of an Impassioned Life on an Imperiled Island’ by Lucinda Fleeson

Tired of her life, Lucinda desperately needs an escape. When the opportunity arises to take a job in Hawaii, she asks herself: ‘Why not?’

Becoming a fundraiser for the National Tropical Botanical Garden in Kauai seems like a dream come true. After all, who wouldn’t want to live in paradise? But as Lucinda soon finds out, Hawaii is paradise only in travel brochures.

Lucinda Fleeson’s story makes for an incredibly engaging tale. It’s a very personal memoir, enriching and uplifting on so many levels. But it’s also a fun, summer book. As a former journalist, the author knows exactly how to make certain topics both thought-provoking and enjoyable to read.

‘Faery Lands of the South Seas’ by James Norman Hall and Charles Bernard Nordhoff

Fascinated by the islands of the South Seas, James Norman Hall and Charles Nordhoff decide to set out on a journey of their dreams.

In Oceania, they get a rare chance to experience real Polynesian life. As they spend time with friendly Islanders, they discover a completely different yet thoroughly enchanting world of ancient customs, traditions, beliefs, and legends.

Sometimes we all want to go back in time. This travelogue will take you to the Pacific of the colonial era, showing you what the islands were like in the past. Both authors are phenomenal writers – their stories are not only interesting but also wonderfully told.

‘Royal Visit to Tonga: Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh’ by Kenneth Bain

When the Kingdom of Tonga receives a message that Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip will visit the archipelago, the whole country immediately gets to work. Everyone pitches in with making decorations and preparing food, so all is ready when the Royal couple arrives.

After months of expectation, the joyful day finally comes. The Islanders, excited to host such honourable guests, begin the celebrations.

The account of 1953 Royal Visit to Tonga is a great book to indulge in before this autumn’s tour of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex to Australia and Oceania. It’s a very interesting and even more informative read that casts insights on the South Pacific kingdom and its culture.

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BEST BOOKS ABOUT COOK ISLANDS

‘Cannibals and Converts: Radical Change in the Cook Islands’ by Maretu

This is probably the best book to read if you want to learn about the Cook Islands’ past. Written by Maretu in the Rarotongan language (translated into English by Marjorie Tuainekore Crocombe), it tells the story of the archipelago immediately before the arrival of Europeans.

The author wonderfully describes how and in what ways the Westerners changed the local culture, and how the native inhabitants had to adjust to the new order established by those who had suddenly appeared on their shores. Fantastic, enlightening publication well worth your time and attention!

‘Mātini’ by Rachel Reeves

In 2014, Rachel Reeves was commissioned to write a book that would document the stories of Cyclone Martin survivors. She was given seven months. And she created a masterpiece.

‘Mātini’ is a detailed account of the tragic events that took place in the Cook Islands on November 1st, when the tropical cyclone nearly destroyed Manihiki Atoll. Although the author portrays the catastrophic occurrences in a rather matter-of-fact manner, the book is deeply touching and emotional. It is also extremely thought-provoking and surprisingly revealing. Simply put, it is a true gem you should have on your bookshelf.

‘Don’t Walk Under the Coconuts’ by Robert Borden

I don’t think any other book conveys the tranquil atmosphere of the Cook Islands better than Robert Borden’s memoir. His words paint a vivid picture of Aitutaki, where Robert and his wife Mary Lou used to spend the winter months.

If you wish to experience life in the tropics – get to know the locals, discover their culture, ‘do’ what they do every single day – this is a perfect title for you. It will transport you to one of the most beautiful places on planet Earth the moment you start reading the first chapter. Fantastic way to enjoy the Cooks from the comfort of your home!

‘The Book of Puka-Puka’ by Robert Dean Frisbie

This is a classic of the South Seas genre and a must-read for anyone interested in the Cook Islands. Samoa had Robert Louis Stevenson. The Cooks had Robert Dean Frisbie.

‘Ropati’ knew the archipelago probably better than any other sailor that has ever visited it. His wonderful memoir about the years he spent on the atoll of Puka-Puka is not only an extremely entertaining piece of literature but also a gold mine of information that offers detailed, often humorous descriptions of island life in the Pacific. The book was written in the 1920s, but some of the Frisbie’s observations are still relevant today.

‘Miss Ulysses from Puka-Puka: The Autobiography of a South Sea Trader’s Daughter’ by Florence Johnny Frisbie

Robert Dean Frisbie’s book is a classic, but his daughter’s autobiography – although incomparably less known – is equally worthy of note. Written from a young girl’s perspective, it shows a different side to life in the Cook Islands.

In this fascinating memoir, Florence Johnny Frisbie tells her version of the story. It is simpler than her father’s, definitely not as thorough and sophisticated. And this is exactly why it makes for such an unusually interesting read. Puka-Puka may be just a small atoll. However, for little Miss Frisbie it was a whole world packed with delightful adventures… Just try to imagine how delightful her reminiscences are.

‘DON’T WALK UNDER THE COCONUTS’ BY ROBERT BORDEN

‘Don’t Walk Under the Coconuts’ is a memoir penned by Robert Borden. It recounts the adventures he and his wife shared while living on the island of Aitutaki.

DON'T WALK UNDER THE COCONUTS

Summary

In order to escape harsh Montana winters, Robert and Mary Lou decide to look for a nice, warm place they could call home during the cold season of the year. So when their friend recommends a small island in the Cooks, they are more than eager to pay a visit.

Delighted with their newly found paradise, the couple starts to enjoy everything it has to offer. Robert devotes himself to fishing in the tranquil waters of the lagoon, while Mary Lou takes pleasure in leisurely strolls by the shore. As they both spend more and more time with the friendly Islanders, they learn how to celebrate their freedom and appreciate the simple things in life. And it turns out that even traversing the roads on a motorcycle can be an unforgettable experience.

Review

It can’t be denied that this is a very pleasant book. Not unusual, not particularly riveting but simply pleasant. It has the ability to transport readers to one of the most wonderful places in the world, so prepare yourself for an amazing and quite emotional journey.

What makes this memoir so exceptional are vivid descriptions. Robert Borden managed to paint a very clear picture of Aitutaki, exposing not only the island’s scenic beauty but also the kindness and warmth of its inhabitants. You feel as if you were actually there – in a boat trying to catch your first barracuda, in the village watching little kids play around, on the beach admiring spectacular red sunsets. And you don’t want to leave, for this place seems to be a true slice of heaven on earth. The author’s words capture the imagination. You get drawn into the story without even noticing. Not because it is a thrilling account of one’s adventures, but because it lets you unwind and relax.

That being said, I should mention that some parts of this book may appear slightly tedious. If Robert Borden could give you a hint what the majority of his narratives are about, I believe he would say: ‘Ladies and gentlemen, we’re gonna do some fishing, then we’re gonna do more fishing, and we’re gonna be fishing some more’. Oh yes, there are a lot of fish in this sea of tales! Fortunately, they do not fill the pages to the brim. The author shares his first-hand knowledge, so you get a rare chance to discover the peculiarities of life in the Cook Islands. And you quickly realize that to be truly happy you need much less than you think you need.

As you may (or may not) imagine, Robert Borden is a natural storyteller. His reminiscences are a pleasure to read. They are exceptionally well written and imbued with wit, humour, and great charm. As if that wasn’t enough, there is this incredible epilogue that opens a mind and touches a heart, leaving you filled with emotions.

If you’d like to escape to the place of sheer bliss, this book will get you there. It’s a wonderful memoir, perfect for all those people who want to forget about their problems and just relax. Are you one of them? If yes, do not hesitate to embark on a journey to the Cooks.