About Me

My photo
Victoria, Australia
I am an author of Young Adult Fiction books. I worked as a teacher in the Pacific Islands for seven years. Whilst in the Solomon Islands I taught PSSC English before the ethnic tension in 2000 forced a change of plans. I love Pacific literature, art and music. You can find me on Facebook at Beth Montgomery Author.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Pacific Island Style by Glenn Jowitt and Peter Shaw

I quite like watching the ABC program Grand Designs. It shows people with far too much money constructing impressive, innovative and sometimes beautiful (and sometimes rather ugly) homes in Britain. When I lived in the Solomons there were many beautiful buildings that i was priveledged to visit, many of them traditional. Pacific Island Style is a coffee book title that showcases traditional housing forms throughout the Pacific. There are chapters dedicated to different Island groups including the Solomon Islands. I was delighted to find a picture on page 47 of the St Martins Training Centre church in Guadalcanal, showing the intricate woven cane patterns in the church walling. Wow! I remember that place at Tenaru. I went to a couple of services there and my husband was a regular, being a student at the training centre.
Pacific Island Style (Lothian, 1999)
   This book is lovely to browse through. The photographs are mostly of buildings, but the people and their arts and crafts are also depicted. It has sparked my interest to visit the Cook Islands one day. I want to buy a tivaevae!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Taming frigate birds

Frigate bird stand, Meneng. Source: J. Temaki, 2013
When I lived in Nauru there were a few wooden stands by the beach which always had frigate birds perched on them. More frigate birds flew overhead or nearby above the ocean. Nauruan culture has a strong relationship with these birds of the sea. Nauruans tame the birds and tether them to the frame to attract more birds. My friend John Temaki has kindly allowed me to publish these pictures of tame frigate birds in Nauru. Thanks John!
Feeding frigate birds, Meneng. Source: J. Temaki, 2013

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Ireland's Islands by Peter Somerville-Large

This coffee table book has some stunning pictures of wild-looking windswept rocky isles off the coast of Ireland. It was an entertaining read and I learnt about the pirate Grace O'Malley who used to have hide-outs on some of these islands. The book is divided into a few pages per island, giving a short history and even some geological information.
Ireland's Islands (Salamander Books, 2000)
   Some of the islands are still inhabited and a handful are home to speakers of the native tongue, long stamped out on the mainland. If you enjoy the BBC series Coast, then you'll find this an enjoyable read. The photographs are by David Lyons.
   (I found this copy in the library so please excuse the library sticker.)

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Devil-Devil by G.W.Kent

In the tradition of Ann Kengalu's Murder on the Mataniko Bridge comes another crime story set in the Solomon Islands. Devil-Devil is a complicated story of custom killings, smuggling and power-struggles set mostly on the island of Malaita.
   The author, G.W. Kent, spent eight years in the Solomons working in education and broadcasting. It is obvious that he has a thorough understanding of Malaitan customs, particularly in the north of the island although this knowledge doesn't cover all of the archipelago. (His reference to sorting out a dispute in Isabel using bride price is a case in point). I was also a little bemused about how the detective could walk from north Malaita, straight through to Kwaio land without coming across other language groups such as the Kwa'rae.
Devil-Devil (Constable and
Robinson, 2011).
   Despite these shortcomings the plot keeps readers wondering how all these murders and the disappearance of an American could be related. There is plenty of action and tension and some violent scenes, but nothing too graphic.
   The story is set in 1960, fifteen years after WW2 and almost as many years to come till independence. Kent does his best to show the islanders' disdain for their colonial masters. The main detective Ben Kella is a Lau man and the only indigenous policeman to reach the rank of sergeant. He is an aofia, a custom man highly respected in his community. However he is considered by other islanders as a 'white blackfella', too educated to be a true islander, and too traditional to be accepted by the expats.
   Kent has managed to capture the curious intertwining of faith that is common in the Solomons. Not only does Ben Kella straddle both worlds of spiritual tradition, but the other protagonist, the plucky Catholic nun, also accepts the presence of the pagan spirit world.
   The familiar landmarks of the G. Club, Point Cruz wharf, Chinatown and the Fishing Village are all described well to those who know Honiara.
   I enjoyed reading this although the quality of the writing is below average. Adverbs a-plenty pepper each page and make many sentences unwieldy, slowing the pace. If you enjoy a good crime plot however, and can overlook the flowery prose then you will enjoy Devil-Devil.

Monday, July 1, 2013


I love this picture of a Nauruan man net fishing. Thanks so much Fredrick for your pic.
Net fishing, Nauru. Source: F. Canon, June 2013.