Not since Precious Ramotswe made her first appearance in The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency has a novel's heroine so immediately and completely won readers' hearts. Materena Mahi, "the best listener in Tahiti," is warm and generous, a natural problem solver, versed in the folk wisdom of her native island home.
When a drunken Pito proposes to Materena, she initially thinks it's just the booze talking. But Materena can't help starting to plan for a fabulous wedding. Right away she's off making inquiries on behalf of "a friend of her boss." From Cousin Moeata, Materena learns that the cake is the most important part of the wedding. From Mama Teta, she's given to understand it's the ride to the church that really counts. Cousin Georgette insists that the real key to a wedding is the dancing. As Materena juggles all this helpful advice, she forges on with everyday life--her relatives, her new baby boy, church on Sunday, cleaning her boss's house...it never ends! Soon, though, Pito seems to have forgotten his proposal. Should Materena be fiu of this heartbreaker?
Célestine Vaite's latest tale of big dreams on a small island will leave readers cheering.
"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.
Célestine Vaite is the author of the widely praised Frangipani, as well as a new novel featuring Materena Mahi forthcoming in 2007. She was born in 1966 in Tahiti. In 1982 she fell in love with an Australian surfer, whom she later married and followed to Australia. They live on the south coast of New South Wales with their four children.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
A love movie
Materena likes movies about love.
When there's a love movie on the television, Materena sits on the sofa, her hands crossed, and her eyes focused on the TV screen. She doesn't broom or cut her toenails, she doesn't iron, or fold clothes. She doesn't do anything except concentrate on the movie.
Movies about love move Materena and sometimes it happens that she imagines she's the heroine.
The love movie tonight is about a woman who loves a man with a passion but, unfortunately, she has to marry another man-it's the plan of her parents. Her future husband is not bad looking or mean. It's just that she feels nothing for that man. When she looks at him, it's like she's looking at a tree-whereas when she looks at the man she loves, her heart goes boom, boom, she wants to kiss him, and she wants to hold him tight.
The woman in the movie meets the man she loves one last time—it is a day before her grandiose wedding, and he's leaving for a far away country, never to return, because it's too much for him to bear to stay in the neighbourhood. It's easier for him to just disappear.
The lovers meet behind a thick hedge. They kiss, they embrace, then he falls to his knees, and declares: 'I will love you till I die, till I die I swear to God, you are the centre of my universe, my guiding light, the only one.'
The heroine hides her face in her gloved hands and bursts into tears. There's violin music, and a tear escapes from the corner of Materena's eye. She's sad for the woman. She can feel the pain.
'Poor her,' Materena sighs.
'Zero movie! What a load of crap!' This is Pito's comment.
In his opinion, there is too much crying in that movie, too much carrying on, no action. And the man, what a bébé la la-wake up to yourself.
'Well go read your Akim comic in the kitchen.' Materena wipes her eyes with her pareu.
But Pito is too comfortable on the sofa, and he wants to watch the end of that silly movie. Materena wishes she could transport Pito somewhere else. He's been annoying her ever since the movie started with his comments and sighs.
Pito doesn't like movies about love. He prefers cowboy movies, movies with action and as little talking as possible.
The movie is near the end and Materena hopes Pito is not going to spoil it with a stupid remark. Materena needs complete silence. The end of a love movie is very crucial. There's a lot of tension. In Materena's mind, the heroine will be reunited with the man she loves but love movies don't always end the way Materena would like them to end.
There's the grandiose wedding and it is clear to Materena that the bride's thoughts are not in the church. She keeps looking back, waiting for the man she loves to appear and rescue her. Materena can guess it. Materena expects the man to barge into the church at any second too, but he's far away riding on his horse. Materena says in her head, 'Eh go get the woman you love, you idiot.' But he keeps on riding that horse.
And meanwhile, to Materena's sadness, the heroine becomes the wife of the man she doesn't love.
Confetti greets the newlyweds outside the church and doves are set free. The heroine watches the doves fly towards the grey sky.
It is the end of the movie and Materena is really annoyed, she prefers happy endings. She listens to the soft melody of the piano during the credits and reads the names of the principal actors. It reminds her that the sad story is only a movie, and not the reality.
After the final credits have finished, she switches the TV off.
'Zero movie!' Pito gets off the sofa like he weighs over one hundred kilos.
Materena tidies up the living room.
'Zero movie!' Pito is now making himself comfortable in the bed.
Materena pulls the bed cover her way and rolls to the far side of the bed.
'I tell you Materena, if I was the man in the movie, I tell you if it was me...'
Pito says he would have snatched the woman and escaped with her on the horse.
'Yes okay. Good night.' Materena is not listening to Pito any more.
She closes her eyes and drifts off to sleep. And she dreams she has to marry the man in the movie, but the man she loves is Pito. She's in the church about to pronounce 'I do' when the door of the church swings open. It is Pito.
He is on a horse and he's wearing cowboy clothes and a cowboy hat.
People stare as Pito makes his way to the altar, they also stare at the horse.
Pito grabs Materena by the waist and he says to the man she's supposed to marry, 'Listen, that woman she's for me—you go look for another woman, okay.' Pito has a fierce look on his face.
Pito and Materena ride out of the church, they ride far away, far away to the desert.
When Materena wakes up, she's laughing.
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Book Description The Text Publishing Company, Australia, 2006. Paperback. Book Condition: Very Good. 339 pp. Browning to page edges. Bookseller Inventory # 43395