Friday, 6 July 2012

Six months in Reunion: book review

Like Crags and Craters this book is an exact reproduction of an older book (not an OCRed copy) by a publishing house called Bibliolife. The full title is Six Months in Reunion: A Clergyman's Holiday, and How He Passed It, the author is a Reverend Patrick Beaton, and it was originally published in 1860. The Literary Gazette of the time said "Mr Beaton's work is written with taste and skill, and abounds with anecdote and information".

Eruption at Ste Rose March 1860, illustration May 1860 (source)

I ordered this over the internet, and was rather annoyed when I received it to find out this was Volume II of a two-volume book. I was not aware of the fact before, as there is nothing to tell you this in any of the online information available. Consequently I'll never know exactly what brought Rev. Beaton to Reunion and what his first impression of the island were - if this were mentioned at all in the first volume. 

Drawing by Mettois based on a photograph by Bévan. From "Voyage
à l’île de la Réunion" by Louis Simonin, Paris, 1861 (source)

On the whole this is not a book I enjoyed much, as the promised holiday aspect seems completely submerged by endless and rather boring commentaries on the condition of Protestants in Reunion, slavery, 'coolie' immigration, and sugar cane culture and transformation, with occasional second-hand anecdotes. Out of twelve chapters two are consecrated to a lightning-fast visit to Salazie (there and back in the space of day from Saint Denis), and the last chapter is probably the most interesting as the author describes a stop made at St Helena on his way back to Europe.

English: Copper engraving, 'A View of the Town...
Copper engraving, 'A View of the Town and Island of St Helena in the Atlantic Ocean' (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

All in all this is a book which might be useful to a student of Reunion's mid-nineteenth century history, but if you're looking for light reading steer clear.

Six Months in Reunion: A Clergyman's Holiday, and how He Passed it

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