About Me

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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.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Mr Pip... the movie

Radio National have a great interview with Lloyd Jones on the release of the movie adaptation of his book, Mr Pip.  Also on the same program is an interview about the Haus Stori (story house) that Lloyd Jones has helped to set up in Bougainville. Inspirational stuff.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Pitcairn Paradise Lost by Kathy Marks

Pitcairn Island is where Fletcher Christian, his fellow mutineers and a dozen Tahitian women settled after the mutiny on the Bounty. These days it is populated with around 50 people, many of them direct descendants of these historical characters. But casting aside the myth and romance of it's turbulent beginnings, this remote island has a sinister side. In 2000 police went to this British colony to investigate disturbing reports of rape. What they discovered were multiple accounts of widespread child abuse dating back generations. It seemed that few girls had escaped the abuse and many men, some of them community leaders, were among the accused. As virtually everyone on Pitcairn is related to one another, the tangle of abuse also involved incest.
Pitcairn Paradise Lost
 (Fourth Estate, 2008)
This book details the trials held on Pitcairn and New Zealand which tore the small community apart. Several men were finally convicted but many were acquitted or failed to come to trial when victims were pressured by family members not to testify.
   I found this book harrowing and profoundly disturbing. Marks was one of only six journalists to gain access to the island for the trials. Her account is written plainly, which makes the victims' accounts all the more stark. It also shows the vitriolic attacks of the community against her reporting.  In the last few chapters she comments on the fragility of societies and how easily humanity can degenerate into anarchy, where the vulnerable suffer and strong men prosper.
   On a lighter note, the island sounds beautiful and rugged. I can only hope that its future will be brighter and that the influx of outsiders and better infrastructure will propel it into the modern age where children's rights are respected.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Beyond the Coral Sea by Michael Moran

Beyond the Coral Sea
(Harper Collins, 2003)
I borrowed this book from the library and unfortunately it's taken me about a month to read. That's not because it's a crappy read, it's actually engrossing, and packed with dozens of interesting historical accounts. It is a weighty tome though, and the way it flits between a modern travelogue and a recount of the last few hundred years of the history of Papua New Guinea makes it difficult to follow at times. But I loved it. I want a copy of my own now.
   The complete title is Beyond the Coral Sea: Travels in the Old Empires of the South-West Pacific. There is so much to this book: the business empires of 'Queen Emma', the failed Utopian settlement of Port Breton, the fascinating accounts of flying witches, the volcanic devastation of Rabaul, the splendour of the Trobriand Islands, the trading kastam of kula... I could go on and on.
   I learnt a lot about meddling colonial Europeans and their enduring legacies. The author's love of the area shone through and I will gladly read this book again and again as a handy historical reference.
   Now I'll have to save up to visit these eastern islands of PNG. They sound remarkable!