Author(s): Madeleine Tobert
Set in a tiny, traditional community on a Pacific island, this is the story of a marriage and a family, of great loves and great betrayals and how real island life is so much more than the blissful idyll Westerners see. Ioane Matate has been a traveller running away from his island since he was fifteen, restless, dissatisfied and troubled. Amalia Hoko has grown up an island child, loved and sheltered, accepting as a boundary and limitation the sea that Ioane uses as his escape route. They belong to different worlds, but when Ioane returns to the island, Amalia is the wife he chooses, loves and maltreats, with far-reaching and disturbing consequences for both them and their children. The Sea on Our Skin transports the reader to the South Pacific with an immediacy that makes the island almost tangible. This is a beguiling and lyrical story, taking its rhythms from the oral storytelling tradition of island life and the myths of the South Seas and blending them with the age-old stories of mothers and children and characters whose joy and suffering linger hauntingly in the mind of the reader.
Madeleine Tobert grew up in St Andrews, Scotland and still thinks of it as home. She left in 2000, aged 17, and headed to the Pacific. A two-week stopover in Tonga turned into months, before she headed back to the UK and a degree in English Literature and Spanish at Durham University. In 2005, Madeleine obtained an MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University and now takes creative writing courses in Auckland. In between, she has travelled extensively to the islands of the Pacific for reasearch and pleasure, and was involved in Tribewanted, a cross-cultural living project on Vorovoro. She is engaged to a Fijian and lives in Auckland. Her island wedding will be a two-week festival.