A lushly described account of daily life in Tahiti from an outsider’s perspective.
Turnbull (Almost French: Love and a New Life in Paris, 2003) and her husband, who brought them to Tahiti from Paris for a work assignment, socialized, worked, traveled and ultimately made a home for themselves in a place many consider to be solely a vacation destination. As an Australian with a French husband, and given Tahiti’s complicated history with France, the author is admirably sensitive to cultural differences. Her portrayal of the islands and their people isn’t romanticized or naïve; she is cleareyed about the negative aspects of her life there. Her neighbors and friends are people, not exotic props, and she develops genuine connections to them. Another thread of the narrative is the author’s infertility and ultimately successful attempt to conceive through in vitro fertilization. As important as the medical journey is her emotional one: Though she had undergone the process in France and had given up on pregnancy, a remark from her therapist motivated her to try again. Her description of a harrowing accident that befell her son is all the more poignant since we know that he was the result of a “precious pregnancy.” All of her experiences—her daily swim in the lagoon, a walk through the local (and only) town or the exhilaration of snorkeling—are richly rendered in expressive language. The book is frank and personal, and at times, it feels like reading the author’s diary. This is also a drawback, however; though it is well-written and edited, there is little sense of pacing or balance.
A sensitive, mostly enjoyable memoir of making a life on Tahiti.