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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 18, 2003
Where does one begin when talking about Pitcairn? The audience I speak to most likely has never set foot there. Do you dream of it perhaps? Maybe you have a notion all your own about this remote sub-tropical paradise in the middle of nowhere. Don't make Pitcairn out in your own likeness. If you do, maybe you will be let down as Ms. Birkett was. Pitcairn can represent an ideal, an abstract thought all your own relative to your day dreams. Pitcarin, however, is a tangible and real place. Humans occupy it, people like you and me. Therefore, the human experience is like it is anywhere whether Bangkok or along the Thames.
I regret buying this book. I did so out of curiousity and the fact that my library didn't carry it. Ms. Birkett took the intimacies she had with the locals and made it into income. Have you ever had an intimate honest conversation with a friend, a visitor, a lover? Now answer this...would you like them to make a book out of it for the publics dissemination?
If you are interested in Pitcairn I guess it might be an interesting read. I read it one afternoon beginning to end. I love Pitcairn, I think I always will. My journey took me three weeks to get there, only a short stop in Mangareva broke the endless blue horizon. I never tried to be a Pitcairner, as I knew I never would be maybe thats why I had such a beautiful time. Ms. Birkett tried to fit in and be one of the locals as she details in her book but to no avail. It's no surprise, Pitcairners are a heardy bunch, unique in themselves and as a group. If you werent born into it, you'll never be one, don't try.
I give this book 2 stars just becuase I am interested in Pitcairn and anything about it and its familiar places. If you are looking for a fair and balanced apprasial of the island don't buy into this. In fact, don't by into what I say....experience it for yourself if you are so lucky.
Cheers
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on May 23, 2002
I really enjoyed this book. Unlike many of the reviewers, I knew nothing about Pitcairn Island before I read this book. I greatly sympathised with the author, feeling herself an outcast in a narrow-minded society. The reality is that not all people are able to set aside their biases and stereotypes, and this book embraced stereotypes subjectivity. This is not I believe, supposed to be a book about the island itself, but rather about how people react when isolated in one spot and being unable to escape from the prying eyes of others. It really got me thinking what I would do had I been in that situation. And the book started an interest in Pitcairn for me.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 4, 2002
I love first person experiences but this one is silly and a waste of time. I finished with few of my basic questions answered and found better information on the net....free!
I recommend you look there and forget this one.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 8, 2001
Dea Birkett has written a book about Pitcairn Island, a sure bet to be a good seller ... Pitcairn is a dream for so many people - but believe me when you live on a small island you come face to face with your own issues.
This is a mean spirited book that attacks a people that can't (and shouldn't have to) defend themselves.
People that come to visit Tahiti often say they'd like to settle here, with little understanding of life on an island, life in another culture, life being an alien to that culture. This is basically what Dea Birkett did on Pitcairn ... she came to Pitcairn under false pretenses and lied her way through her stay.
Afterwards she visited Norfolk Island (the same people as Pitcairn Island) wearing dark sunglasses so as not to be recognised and wrote a derogeratory article for an Australian Newspaper.
Perhaps she could continue her life and try to face her own issues rather than putting out other people's dirty laundry.
And perhaps to learn to respect another's culture even if one can't come to an understanding of it.
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on August 30, 2001
Like many people I have found the story of the founding of Pitcairn Island fascinating and have always wondered about the descendents of the Bounty. Although somewhat gossipy in tone, I don't fault Ms. Birkett so very much. She is obviously not a trained observer of human nature. But she does bring us tales of a lifestyle completely unknown to most of us, and isn't that what a book should do, transport us beyond our own daily lives?
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on August 30, 2001
Like many people I have found the story of the founding of Pitcairn Island fascinating and have always wondered about the descendents of the Bounty. Although somewhat gossipy in tone, I don't fault Ms. Birkett so very much. She is obviously not a trained observer of human nature. But she does bring us tales of a lifestyle completely unknown to most of us, and isn't that what a book should do, transport us beyond our own daily lives?
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 6, 2001
A fairly pedestrian travel/adventure bio about an English woman who decides, after viewing 'The Bounty', to learn about the island of Pitcairn and scheme to get there. This small, isolated island is where the original mutineers of the Bounty eventually landed and began a community which has since dwindled to number in the 30's. The packaging is somewhat misleading, not only in its description of how many people had gone to Pitcairn before, the author was not the first, but also in its setting expectations that the island would be considerably more rudimentary. Without regular external contact, I suppose I wasn't expecting electricity through generators, island natives running about on four-wheel ATVs, and passing the time watching videos. Typical anthropological biases come into play especially with her romanticizing the situation, condescension towards the natives and their customs, and her stand-offish isolation at times. Her amusing attempts to rationalize a sordid encounter w/ the island's resident lothario, provide a mild distraction from an otherwise unremarkable narrative. For a similar, much more elegant treatment of daily survival in a society, see 'Shipwrecks' by Yoshimura, or Dr. Sack's 'Island of the Colorblind'.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 1, 2001
I wonder if it's possible to learn about Pitcairn Island and not want to go there. During hectic days when I feel overwhelmed and unappreciated by the endless rat race striving that makes up much of my life, my thoughts turn to the joys and happiness of casting it all away and living on an island far away, a place like Pitcairn. Birkett took such feelings to their logical end by arranging to live on Pitcairn. This book describes her time on the island.
As travel writing goes, Birkett's text is interesting. For the community of around 40 people, life on Pitcairn is controlled by the sea and by the smallness of the island. Birkett's text offers a view of a life removed, indeed cutoff, from much of what we consider normal, natural, and expected. The Pitcairn Islanders live in a state of being self-sufficient and at the same time dependent upon the whims of passing ships. In these days when technology seems to draw many of us closer together and to make the world smaller, Pitcairn seems more isolated. There used to be many more ships passing the island in the days before airplanes were in widespread use for Pacific routes.
The book is also a study of the difficulties an outsider faces in becoming part of such a community. Birkett reports that she often found herself at a loss to understand the true ins and out of the community. On Pitcairn, as in so many other places, the community has its own code, its own flow, understandable to insiders and baffling to outsiders. In a sense, it's not different from any other community in the world. What makes it different is that Pitcairn is the stuff of legend and the focus of fantasy.
Birkett's book is the story of the unfortunate intrusion of reality in the search for Paradise. There is a long tradition of such writing, and the common theme is that "utopia" is, as the derivation of the word itself suggests, "no place." During Birkett's time, she went from being an outsider trying to understand the ins and outs of Pitcairn life to being an outsider vaguely afraid of violence from the islanders. In the end, she was anxiously waiting for the next passing ship to pick her up and take her home.
Yet, the dream of Paradise does not die, even though we know that there is no such place, even as the result of experience. In the wee hours, in unexpected moments, we all long for the place that can never be.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 27, 2000
I hate to think how the Pitcairners feel about this book. They warmly welcomed Dea into their homes, not knowing that she has lied about the reasons for her visit. She moans that they gossip about her behind her back but she then writes a nasty, backstabbing book about them. Who is a vindictive gossip? Dea is! The book is full of contradictions. She claims that she had read all about Pitcairn before she set out for the island and yet she didn't know that the Browns weren't descendants of mutineer William Brown. Anyone who is interested in the Bounty should know that the mutineers that left descendants were Fletcher Christian, Ned Young, McCoy, Quintal, John Adams and Mills. And she states that she is not sure who is buried in John Adams's grave!! I'm sure the Pitcairners know and Dea is just trying to make a mystery where they isn't one. Just like she made up her fear of the Pitcairners (or else she is absolutely paranoid.) When I bought this book I was really looking forward to reading about modern-day Pitcairners but by the end of the book I felt guilty about prying into their lives.
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on August 5, 2000
It's funny to see the bias of "readers" who can't connect with what's being written. A read of the sleeve will tell you this isn't a travel, sociological, anthropological or any other kind of 'behind the veil' writing. Ms. Birkett has written a book that follows exactly what she describes at the outset: her own personal, spontaneous journey to an acknowledged fantasy. Her experiences on Pitcairn Island dispell quickly such a fantasy world. This lesson seems to have upset many readers despite the title being an obvious reference to herself. The highly collectivized, anti-individualized prisoners of Pitcairn/oblivion ritually refuse to answer even the simplest questions or equally spontaneously ignore her completely is a clear scuttling of the touchy-feely environmentalist fallacy of the Garden of Eden. Her book is ultimately about herself (the title?????) because it is her own self-motivated whim that took her there. So what? It might have been interwoven with other views, if the islander's facade of friendliness wasn't a complete sham. As for claims that she was self-absorbed, what "acclaimed" travel writer isn't narcisistic? Chatwin? Marco Polo? Birkett is brutally honest and her contribution is worthwhile, even important if only for the fact that she dispells the notion of today's globe-hopping my-room-with-an-"X" naive belief that you can vicariously understand a people or a culture at all from ANY distance outside the peoples themselves, day-tourist trinket buyers and reviewers to the contrary. Boo. Hoo. The grumbling armchair adventurers would do well to follow in her footsteps before venting well out of their league. Good 'un D.B.
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