This insightful memoir (288 pages) was published in January of 2008 by Bloomsbury USA. The book takes you to New Zealand. David read Come on Shore and We Will Kill and Eat You All and loved it; it wouldn't be on our site if he didn't recommend it.
Part memoir, part history, this remarkable book is both a charming love story — between an American woman and a Māori man — and a look at what happened when European colonialism collided with the Māori culture in the 18th century. Who doesn’t want their history lessons served with a side of romance?!
Author Christina Thompson is a charming narrator and an astute observer of both her own surroundings and the perils of history. Through the lens of her relationship with her husband Seven, she explores all the facets of the adage ‘opposites attract’ to charming effect. And — lucky us! — we meet her new extended family. As Christina gets to know his big, boisterous crew, we’re taken inside their Māori home and immersed in this new-to-her culture: tattoos and tradition, joviality, a sense of community, and overwhelmingly, the importance of family.
She uses this warm backdrop to explore the less cozy aspects of colonialism and the Europeans’ early contact with the Māori. According to legend, the words ‘Come on shore, and we ill kill and eat you all’ were spoken to Captain Cook when he first attempted, in the 1700s, to go ashore in New Zealand. That pretty much set the tone for a while, with the English also doing their part to sour relations: buying (or stealing) land rights, rates, pestilence, poverty.
Thompson brings her empathy to both sides of the equation. She recognizes the challenges of an explorer’s nature — both she and Seven are adventurers driven by curiosity — without minimizing the damage colonizers can wreak on the people they seek to conquer.
This story travels through time and around the world, from Australia to Hawaii to tribal New Zealand — to understand the past and find a sense of home. Thompson is in love with adventure and life and ultimately, Seven — and you will be, too.
It’s easy to be critical of pioneers, as easy as it was a hundred years ago to worship them. Where once we saw their bravery, their self-sacrifice, their intrepid spirit, we now see only their greed, their brutality, their cunning manipulation of the truth. But a frontier is not that simple. It is less like a line than a zone of shadow, an area of give and take. It evolves and changes and the people who are in it change, too: how they think and what they say and what they mean when they say it. — Christina Thompson
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