Retracing the journeys of Captain James Cook, author Tony Horwitz writes a fast-paced, fascinating, and often very humorous account of his “walk” in the footsteps of Captain Cook, an explorer he obviously admires and whom he attempts to understand and make understandable to his readers. Fascinating as a biography of the complex Captain Cook, as a lively record of the age of exploration, as a modern adventure to “romantic” south Pacific islands, and as research on cultural anthropology, this is an exhilarating and fast-paced narrative, one which will reward careful reading and cause the reader to examine the dubious results of “civilization.” Horwitz obviously enjoyed his research, and the reader will, too, however vicariously.
Category Archive for 'French Polynesia'
When he first meets Charles Strickland, a London stockbroker, the young narrator of this novel thinks of him as “good, honest, dull, and plain.” When Strickland suddenly abandons his wife and children and takes off for Paris, however, the narrator decides he is a cad. Though he has had no training, Strickland has decided to become an artist, a drive so strong that he is willing to sacrifice everything toward that end. Anti-social, and feeling no obligation to observe even the smallest social decencies, Strickland becomes increasingly boorish as he practices his art. Eventually, he makes his way to Tahiti, where he “marries,” moves to a remote cottage, and spends the rest of his life devoted to his painting. Basing the novel loosely on the life of Paul Gauguin, Maugham creates an involving and often exciting story. His narrator is a writer who feels impelled, after Strickland’s death and posthumous success, to set down his memories of his early interactions with Strickland in London and Paris. (To see the entire review, click on the title of this excerpt.)
Combining natural history, a search for the remains of the Mysterious Bird of Ulieta, several love stories, and a number of exciting mysteries, author Martin Davies keeps the reader totally engaged and on the edge of his/her seat for the entire length of the novel. As the novel opens, famed researcher of extinct birds John Fitzgerald is visited by Gabriela, a former lover from Brazil whom he has not seen for 14 years. She is now in London with Karl Anderson, an aggressive researcher/natural scientist, who is actively searching for the Mysterious Bird of Ulieta, and Gabriela wants Fitzgerald to help. Anderson believes that if he can locate the remains of this mysterious bird for the Ark Project, a project to collect rare DNA, that it will not only boost the value of the shares but will also attract much needed publicity. Hoping to lure John Fitzgerald into helping him find the bird, Anderson offers him $50,000, an offer he refuses. Fitzgerald has decided to search for the bird himself, eventually aided by Katya, a young graduate student renting a room in his house. (For full review, click on the title of this excerpt.)