THE BRANCHING CORAL by James Meade
Kirkus Star

THE BRANCHING CORAL

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KIRKUS REVIEW

An exciting, well written novel by an Australian who is also an expert skin-diver; he has much that is fresh and authentic to say about life in the South Seas. Dan Menard, partly European, lives in Suva, where the population includes British officials, other mixed-breeds, and full-blooded Fijis and Samoans. A humorous, intelligent, resourceful man, Dan accepts his own anomalous heritage without grievance. Sure of his skill as a reef fisherman, cheerfully realistic about the prejudices against him, he sets about to become a success; buys a good boat, and presently takes out charter parties and joins the English club. Modest, curious and self-assured, he threads the difficult waters of the in-group with convincing charm; making a few friends, some mistakes, and returning with equal vigor to the bang-up, hula-and-guitar parties at home, or the swirling depths of the reef. There are marvellous descriptions of Fiji-style skin diving, reef life, native villages, as exciting as the more contrived sequence in which Dan rescues a white fisherman, whose nymphomanic wife has been having her way with Dan, from the sharks. But even this rather trite triangle seems new. The author's ear for speech, particularly Dan's mixed, musical, dialect, and a freedom and vitality in his descriptions of an endlessly varied world, give the book a reality that transcends lesser banalities.

Pub Date: Jan. 9th, 1960
Publisher: Viking