cover image Come On Shore and We Will Kill and Eat You All: A New Zealand Story

Come On Shore and We Will Kill and Eat You All: A New Zealand Story

Christina Thompson, Author . Bloomsbury $24.99 (270p) ISBN 978-1-59691-126-0

In this unusual hybrid of history and memoir, Harvard Review editor Thompson examines the historical collisions between Westerners and Maoris through the lens of her marriage to a Maori man. As an American grad student in Australia, Thompson met her husband-to-be, known as “Seven,” while on vacation in New Zealand. She was petite, blonde and intellectual; he was large, dark and working-class. Yet within a short time, they had married and started a family. Their relationship, and her scholarship, took them back and forth across the Pacific, until they finally settled in her family's New England home outside Boston. Thompson's deep knowledge of the history of Europeans in the Pacific allows her to trace the misunderstandings and stereotypes that have marked perceptions of Polynesians up to the present day. A sensitive observer and polished stylist, Thompson is never dully tendentious or dogmatic. The narrative moves smoothly by way of well-told anecdotes both personal and historical. At times, Thompson covers so much territory—there's a stray chapter about her family's interactions with Native Americans in Minnesota—that it can feel like she's trying to do too much, yet her prose never disappoints. Seven, the man at the center of the book, remains pleasingly opaque, as if Thompson is saying that we can never know completely even those we love best. (July)