Come on Shore and we will Kill and Eat you All has to have the best title of the year – nah, make it the decade, perhaps the best title of any book I’ve ever read. It turns out to be a quote from the explorer Cook, who had several experiences with the ferocity of the Maoris.
The book itself is hard to classify. It starts out as the relatively straightforward story of how the author, the daughter of an upper-class mother and an academic father, meets, marries, and makes a life with her Maori husband, but the family story is interspersed with many tales of the discovery and subsequent conquest of New Zeland by the Europeans — a story that sadly resembles other conquests in other parts the world. The book is not a sorry tale, however. It tells lovingly of the beauty of New Zealand, which I hope would come through convincingly to readers who have not been there. It sure made me want to go back.
It also talks about marrying someone very different from oneself. Seven, her husband, not only looks different (and sticks out in the affluent Boston suburb where they eventually move in with her parents) but is also a blue-collar worker when she is a highly-educated academic and approaches life in the most relaxed manner, something she has not liked to do since her younger days. (After all she met him in a bar in on the Bay of Islands, having decided not to get on her bus back to the airport…) Their life together is, as expected, a full of compromises, mostly gracious ones.
The weakest part of the book is the last chapter or two, in which for unknown reasons she decides she must tell the story of her mother’s family, for balance. I would gladly have stayed in the Southern hemisphere instead.
A delightful, different, deep book. Highly recommended, and not just because of the title.