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The Contemporary Pacific 15.1 (2003) 221-223

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A Remarkable Journey, by Lady Carol Kidu. Sydney: Pearson Education Australia, 2002. ISBN0-7339-3227-4, 161 pages, photographs. A$21.95, PGK42.90.

The journey is a prevalent postcolonial metaphor for a search: a search for identity, a search for a sense of place, and a longing for situatedness—homeland. Indeed, it is a hunger for the center, which is always elsewhere. Lady Carol Kidu's book, A Remarkable Journey, is an autobiography that engages the motif of journey as the main thread that yokes together the narrative. Autobiography is a common genre in which an author's life is recorded, often in terms of symbolic journeys from a certain location to other destinations. Lady Kidu uses this genre to narrate her own history by reassembling the scattered elements of her life, her private self, and regrouping them. This book deals with issues of self, uprootedness, and relocation. It is about a shift from the center to the periphery. At the same time, it is about Lady Kidu's cross-cultural love relationship with her husband, the late Sir Buri Kidu, former Chief Justice of Papua New Guinea.

On a different plane, it is about the redefinition of her identity within a different cultural matrix. Indeed, it can be ascertained from the book that the question of her identity within a new context must be renegotiated in order for her to be visible. The writer is able to achieve this through mediation and negotiation between the two cultures through the assistance of her family.

The journey metaphor commences in Brisbane, Australia, when a sixteen-year-old Australian girl meets and falls in love with a Papua New Guinean student in the mid-1960s, a time when cross-cultural and interracial relationships were socially proscribed and shunned. The relationship between the hitherto obscure Australian girl and the Papua New Guinean boy is indeed a journey itself: from sexual innocence to sexual maturity, from mono-racial relationships to interracial relationships, from a private (egocentric) vision to a broader social and cultural understanding, among others. This journey is played within the interface of this white/black falling in love. But the white Australia policy, which proscribed interracial relationships, reduces this journey metaphor to a sense of superficiality and ambivalence. Despite the oppositional voices, however, the journey is undertaken, consummated in marriage and relocation to Papua New Guinea. The metaphor of the journey as dialogue/bridge enables the author to bridge the lacuna of cultural silence that exists for her as an outsider trying to invent for herself a new hybrid identity.

In this book the author provides us a rare and intriguing insight into a mid-1960s Australian girl's growing love for a Papuan school boy, the deepening of the relationship, the marriage, the return to Papua New Guinea, the difficult period of adaptation [End Page 221] to an alien culture, the elevation of her husband to the position of chief justice, his death, her decision to contest the national elections in 1997(Moresby South), and her subsequent win to become one of only two women parliamentarians. Simultaneously, the narrative is about her mental and physical struggles, pains, and perseverance to adjust and adapt into a culturally different society.

What makes this story powerful and poignant is that the love relationship was conceived when the social and cultural interplay between the two races was still unsanctioned. In other words, white Australia was not yet ready to accept interracial relationships. "As we walked the streets (in Brisbane) I was aware that many people were staring. I was so proud to walk with Buri and was surprised when an elderly (white) man walked straight toward me, then spat at me with such hatred, 'You filthy woman'" (29). Given this matrix, Lady Kidu was able to overcome many of the cultural and social obstacles because she had an understanding family, understanding husband, and understanding in-laws. It is this atmosphere that overtly foregrounds the strong determination of the author and makes this book truly remarkable and interesting.

Indeed the narrative...