Coconuts and Tearooms: A review

May 14, 2008 at 3:40 am (Corruption in PNG) (, , , , )

A review

Boys, Pat

Coconuts and Tearooms: Six years in New Britain, New Guinea in the 1930s – The Colonial days, Pat Boys: Auckland, 1993


What a fascinating and informative tale of pre-war expatriate life in New Guinea this book is!


As a post-war resident of PNG myself, this account of the bipos or befores as pre-war Territorians were known, I found most illuminating. They were highly regarded by all who lived in PNG after the war.


Pat Boys in her mother, Margaret’s words and in insightful writing, conjures up bygone years: The allure yet isolation of plantation life, the liveliness of Rabaul’s social life are all related in language replete in the domesticity of food recipes and daily life. Accounts of ship voyages add to the appeal of the time.


The book is made more interesting with the number of photos and maps included.


The undercurrents of human experiences are mentioned and implied: Coping with Japanese trochus poachers to natural disasters like the volcanic eruption in Rabaul. Margaret’s marriage breakdown and her return to New Zealand with Pat seem analogous to a breakdown of expatriate pre-war life in New Guinea with the coming of the Second World War.


This book tells us so much by implication in words, pictures and maps of a life that is gone. It is easy to read and enjoy.


For those readers wanting a copy, I would suggest writing to: Mrs Pat Boys, 19 Andresen Street, Foxton Beach, New Zealand 4815


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