KVF CoOp Proudly presents a fascinating book with a history of its own!
"Tradewinds & Treachery"
The first of an intended series set in Fiji featuring the fictional Cotterell Family
Strong-willed and adventurous Kate Denison arrives in Fiji with her missionary father, revelling in the opportunity to build a new life far from the constraints of Victorian London.
She finds herself in the world of Jason Cotterel, a planter from New England who came to Fiji to escape intolerance, determined to live in harmony with his Fijian neighbours.
As political tensions build, Jason is reluctantly thrust into the role of leader and he clashes with Kate’s brother Toby — a man of few scruples who is unwilling to resist the islands intoxicating freedoms.
Can Kate and Jason create their own South Pacific paradise amidst both European and Fijian political turmoil and unrest?
In his third novel Robert Campbell has skilfully woven love, war and intrigue into the real-life fabric of events that led to Fiji becoming a British Crown colony in 1874.
soft cover • 170 x 240mm • 356 pages
Price is only $34.95 including postage click here to order on line
About the author
Robert (Bob) Campbell (born Wanganui New Zealand 1934 – died Malvern UK 1992) attended Napier Boys High and graduated MA (History) from Canterbury University.
Inspired by an uncle with a banana plantation in Fiji, he joined the British Colonial Service and was posted to Fiji as a District Officer in 1956.
He worked on agricultural development projects and became District Commissioner in Vanua Levu in 1969, retiring just prior to Fiji gaining independence.
Bob later worked in Yorkshire, the Gilbert Islands (Kiribati), and with a firm of international natural resource consultants.
Under the name Robert Staveley he wrote two other historical romances:
A Treasonable Affair 1972 and Shame the Devil 1974.
About the book
A heavily annotated manuscript was found after Bob Campbell’s death in 1992 and was later given to Peter Thompson who, with Derek Robinson, edited it into this book.
Peter and Derek were Bob Campbell’s contemporaries in the Fiji Public Service during the 1960s and 70s.
This was to have been the first of a series featuring a fictional family (the Cotterels).
The author planned to follow the family’s fortunes through the events of Fiji’s history from before cession to Britain (October 1874) to the present.
Thus the setting and historical context are authentic (other than Vatulevu) and Fiji-watchers will recognise many of the tensions alluded to as having influenced political events through the past 140 years.
It’s a shame Bob wasn’t able to complete his project.
Fiji Times Review
A fictitious dip into our exciting past
Tradewinds & Treachery hits local shelves
By Sophie Foster
THE timing couldn’t have been more perfect… even if somewhat eerily so.
Just last month, the original copy of the Deed of Cession was discovered sitting in an old picture frame in the office of a provincial administrator in the old capital Levuka.
That the original copy of the Deed of Cession – handwritten in Fijian – had survived the rigours of 134 years intact renewed interest in the historic event and excited the imaginations of many people.
Yet for one district officer in colonial service the events surrounding the Deed of Cession had always sparked a keen interest. But it was not until Robert Campbell died that his handwritten manuscript was found, which weaved history and fiction around the politics and chaos of events that led to Fiji becoming a British colony.
So it was, also last month, that an unobtrusive box containing Robert Campbell’s book on those events arrived into the country - without fanfare, waiting to be discovered by the nation’s reading public.
He had called the story ‘Tradewinds & Treachery – Drama and Romance in Old Fiji’.
“Although Tradewinds & Treachery is a historical romance and a work of fiction, its setting and historical context is authentic, and only the battle for Vatulevu is wholly fictional,” say its editors Peter Thompson and Derek Robinson.
The author creates an island called Vatulevu – set somewhere in the vicinity of the Lomaiviti Group - close to the centre of some of the most active engagement between European and indigenous Fijians in the early 1800s.
The book is resplendent with real figures from Fiji’s history books – Ratu Seru Cakobau, King George of Tonga, Prince Ma’afu’otu’i’toga, Reverend Thomas Baker, Lord Belmore, JT Sagar, JC Smith, RS Swanston, Sir Hercules Robinson, John Thurston, and Commodore JG Goodenough to name a few.
Campbell’s “heavily annotated” manuscript was found by his wife after his death and passed on to Thompson and Robinson – both of whom were formerly in the service of Fiji’s Department of Agriculture.
After the original manuscript was typed up, Thompson and Robinson engaged in heavy discussion for several years before deciding to edit the story and ensure it was published.
“Robert Campbell planned to create a fictitious family and weave its fortunes into the fabric of Fiji’s history from before Cession to Britain in 1874 to the present time. This book was written as the first instalment in a series,” the editors say. Though Campbell died before fulfilling that vision, his first instalment is complete in its treatment of the circumstances that led to the need for a Deed of Cession.
The author attempts to bring Fiji’s history to life by tying readers to the fortunes and misfortunes of the book’s youthful main characters. These are drawn from two of the most influential forces in Fiji at the time – the church and foreign residents.
Woven around the lives of a missionary’s daughter Kate Denison and a planter Jason Cotterell, it attempts to make sense of the turmoil and unrest that existed in pre-Cession Fiji.
It speaks of a nation being coaxed out of multitudinous interests, sometimes held together only by the barrel of a gun. The author incorporates some of those challenges into the misfortunes of the Denison family – including alcoholism, gambling, slave trading and the struggle to understand an indigenous way of life so different to their own.
Having been posted to the fictitious Vatulevu island, it comes as no surprise that Kate Denison (who is the only white woman on the island) ends up with Jason Cotterell (who is the only available white man on the island).
But there are some elements of mystery that complicate this basic plot and which allow for some insight into what might have been in the hearts and minds of administrators, planters, chiefs, missionaries and common folk in the lead-up to Fiji becoming a colony of Great Britain.
The author conducted significant research into real-life characters and events that occurred in Fiji before Cession, and wove these into the plot of the story.
To do so, Campbell used the experience he gained when writing two other historical romances - A Treasonable Affair 1972 and Shame the Devil 1974 – which he published under the name Robert Staveley.
In this instance, though historical events are broadly reflected, the author uses creative licence to add vivid detail to other momentous occurrences, such as how the Cession deal was brokered with Great Britain.
“Fiji-watchers will recognise many of the tensions alluded to as having influenced political events through the past 140 years, not excluding recent coups,” the editors say.
“The attitudes ascribed to European settlers were commonplace in the 1860s and ‘70s. When blackbirding was stopped they pressed for alternative sources of labour. The Colonial government’s solution was to import indentured labourers from India, from 1879 on. Today, all citizens of Fiji alike are living with the consequences.”
This book is intended for anyone with an interest in Fiji. While the author makes clear though the story itself is fictitious, it is based on events that people with a connection to Fiji will understand and appreciate.
If nothing else, with dearth of new fiction on Fiji, this book is enjoyable for its entertainment value and for its attempts to bring that period of our history to life.
Perhaps other authors connected to Fiji may wish to resurrect different perspectives, especially that of indigenous Fijians themselves at what was a time of great change and challenge for our nation.
For now though, Robert Campbell’s fictional treatment of history helps add colour to one of the most momentous times in Fiji’s history. And it’s especially a good read considering the fact that the original copy of the Deed of Cession has now been rediscovered. Robert Campbell himself could certainly have not wished for better timing.
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