|The Far Lands
|Little, Brown and Company
|fiction, South Seas
This is a wonderful tale in its own right, and although it does not pretend to be an accurate retelling of the Tongan or any other Polynesian people's creation story, it can be seen and understood as such by Western readers. James Norman Hall is a fine writer and brings his finely wrought and finely balanced prose to bear on this ancient tale (in fact, not so ancient in Western terms, but old enough in terms of the oral history from whence it springs).
Without giving too much away, it is the story of an ancestor who successfully fulfills an ancient prophecy about reaching "the far lands." What happens along the way is of course the meat of the tale and it is recounted in an exciting manner that will keep anyone who likes a good story turning the pages. The author has managed to fit in numerous tiny details which must needs be mostly his own devices, yet which give the story its authentic ring.—Owen on Goodreads. [Suggest a different description.]
Author Bio for Hall, James Norman
James Norman Hall (22 April 1887—5 July 1951) was born in Colfax, Iowa, where he attended the local schools. Hall graduated from Grinnell College in 1910 and became a social worker in Boston, Massachusetts, while trying to establish himself as a writer and studying for a Master's degree from Harvard University. He was on vacation in the United Kingdom in the summer of 1914, when World War I began. Posing as a Canadian, he enlisted in the British Army, serving in the Royal Fusiliers as a machine gunner during the Battle of Loos. He was discharged after his true nationality was discovered, and he returned to the United States and wrote his first book, Kitchener's Mob (1916), recounting his wartime experiences.
Returning to France, in 1916 Hall joined the Lafayette Escadrille, an American volunteer flying squadron in the French Air Force. During his time in the Escadrille, Hall was awarded the Croix de Guerre and the Médaille Militaire. When the United States entered the war, Hall was made a Captain in the Army Air Service. After being shot down over enemy lines, Hall spent the last months of the war as a German prisoner of war. After being released, he was awarded the French Légion d’Honneur and the American Distinguished Service Cross.
After the war, Hall spent much of his life on the island of Tahiti, where he and Charles Nordhoff, who had also moved there, wrote a number of successful adventure books (including the Bounty trilogy). In addition to the various Bounty films, other film adaptations of his fiction include The Hurricane (1937), which starred his nephew Jon Hall; Passage to Marseille (1944), featuring Humphrey Bogart; and Botany Bay (1953), with Alan Ladd.
In 1940, Hall published a book of poems with the title Oh Millersville! It appeared under the pseudonym Fern Gravel, and the poems were written in the voice of a girl of about 10 years of age. The book was critically well received, and the hoax wasn't exposed until 1946, when Hall published an article entitled "Fern Gravel: A Hoax and a Confession" in the Atlantic Monthly. He wrote that he had been inspired by a dream in which he saw himself back in his Iowa childhood with a group of children, among whom was a girl named Fern who wanted her poems written down. When he awoke, Hall wrote Fern's poems, which are simply worded but nicely detailed first-person observations of small-town life.
Hall died in Tahiti and is buried on the hillside property just above the wooden house he lived in for many years; the house, now restored, is a family museum.
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