“In Australia I often used to stand on the beach and look out to sea and think about what it must have been like to see these places for the first time. It was a curious thought, since the view from where I stood was exactly the opposite of what those first Europeans saw. They, seeing land from sea, recorded it in gently undulating profiles, taking note of any distinctive formations that might prove useful to future navigators. To them it was a stretch of rocky coastline, miles of inscrutable grey-green bush, a series of possible landfalls, inlets and bays where one might get water, reefs and sandbars to avoid. To me, standing there with my back to the cliffs, it was a great reach of emptiness, a stretch of possibility, the gentle curve of the horizon at the edge of the sea.”
A New York Times Editor’s Choice. Shortlisted for the 2009 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards Prize
for Non-fiction and the 2010 William Saroyan International Prize for Writing.
Praise for Come on Shore
At heart a love story, Come On Shore and We Will Kill and Eat You All is a moving examination of exploration—both inner and outer—and the way our travels into remote places on Earth can become travels into the remote places in our hearts and souls.
Engagingly and candidly explores what our histories—both personal and national—give us: not answers but rather ‘the most interesting questions.’
—San Francisco Chronicle
Come on Shore and We Will Kill and Eat You All is a highly unusual blend of personal memoir, travel writing and anthropology, and I like to think it’s the happy result of a scholarly writer looking round at this particular theoretical minefield and deciding to make it her home.
—Sunday Times (London)
In the space of 250 pages … [Thompson] gives us a great complex of rippling stories spanning centuries and continents and the great Pacific Ocean. The book’s success, its pleasure and wisdom, come from the love that acts as the connective tissue, bringing . . . us to a new understanding.
—Drusilla Modjeska, The Age (Melbourne)
A fascinating glimpse into the adventure of cross-cultural relationships, whether personal or on the scale of British colonialism. . . . Come on Shore and We will Kill and Eat You All is a unique book that will appeal to readers on at least two levels. First, it is a memoir—the story of a young woman who traveled far away from home and found love and adventure. Second, it is a history of relations between two very different cultures and an examination of how the present is a child of the past.
A sedulous animation of what historians call ‘the subject position,’ which underlines the way historical truth can be apprehended only subjectively . . . a superb book full of gravity and truth.
—Sydney Morning Herald
This offbeat, intimate and absorbing history of Maori and European encounters is not all about killing and cannibalism. There is that, true, and more: gruesome details about tattooing, for example, and head preservation. But it is really a story about mutual incomprehension, illuminated, if not dispelled, by the author’s own romance with the Maori, and with one in particular . . . The book is a lesson in the limitations of rational expectation.
Thompson’s . . . observations about the enduring effects of colonization can be penetrating. She puts her vantage point of insider-outsider . . . to good effect, tracing the genealogy of racial stereotypes and cutting through some of New Zealand’s most cherished myths about itself.
—New York Times Book Review
Thompson provides a marvellously atmospheric description of the first ‘contact encounter’ between the West and the Maori. . . . Indeed the book is full of good things: I was shamefully ignorant about the history of exploration in the southern hemisphere, and learned a lot from Thompson’s intelligent, lucid narrative.
This book stands out because of its sharp, fine writing and the fresh glimpses it gives of New Zealand. It also goes beyond, covering a broader canvas that includes Australia and Polynesia and reaches across the Pacific to the American Midwest and New England. . . . Her story is told with a strong and compulsive narrative drive.
A thing of beauty . . . Thompson manages in her memoir to do what good fiction does: this book will certainly entertain those who want to learn more about Pacific history.
For a book that’s equal parts New Zealand history, cultural contemplation and personal love story, the unusual title is easily appropriate. The phrase comes from shouted warnings of Maori warriors to early European explorers of New Zealand. And one of the book’s most interesting turns is its look at the enduring appeal of the myth of the Noble Savage.
—MacLean's magazine (Canada)
It’s this human connection that makes this book so potent a work. . . . While Tasman arrived first at the crossroads of history, Thompson has chosen to make her home there.
—New Zealand Geographic