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Black Pearls weaves a powerful story around Ellie, the beautiful, adopted daughter of a missionary couple. One fateful day in 1903, the murderous crew from a black-birding ship anchored in Baninga Bay, invades Ellie’s village. The simplicity of Ellie's idyllic life, among jungle-clad mountains, white beaches and gentle waterfalls, is no more. More
Black Pearls is the first book in a trilogy by Heather Whipp. Black Pearls begins late in the nineteenth century on a Pacific Island, moves briefly to Australia, before returning to the New Hebrides. It incorporates the key elements of love, envy, greed, prejudice, and faith.
Having lived for a number of years in the New Hebrides (now Vanuatu), the author has been able to portray the physical and fascinating custom side of life in a Pacific island setting. She has reproduced the island atmosphere by painting word pictures of village life so that the reader can almost smell the smoke from the women’s wood fires, hear the beat of the slit drums, and the crash of the surf onto the beach. The author keeps readers absorbed and intrigued as she creates an in-depth picture of a young woman as she faces challenges and heartbreak.
Black Pearls is an imaginative and powerful story woven around Ellie Griffiths’ idyllic life on a Pacific island, where she resides for the first nineteen years of her life. Ellie, the adopted daughter of a missionary couple, knows little beyond her innocent existence. One fateful day a ‘recruiting’ ship calls into the island and the hand of tragedy strikes the village and all who live in it. Cruelly invaded by the murderous, black-birding crew, the simplicity of Ellie’s life in her tropical wonderland with its background of jungle-clad mountains, white beaches, and spring-fed waterfalls, is no more. Ellie has only heard of black-birders, but has never seen them. On the surface, nothing about black-birders differentiates them from other seamen calling into Baninga Bay. It is only when the recruiters drop their deception of resting after a severe storm at sea, that Ellie sees how vicious men from a western nation can be. She is thrust into a situation filled with danger when witnessing the abuse of young women. Ellie’s traumatic experience with the black-birders has one saving grace. It is her close childhood friend, Tari Masu, who comes to her rescue.
Although overdue for its visit to the island, the trading vessel, Response, arrives just in time to rescue the villagers, as they make their escape from the black-birding ship. Vernon Brissom, on board Response is the passenger, who caused the ship’s delay. Mr. Brissom, an agriculturalist, has signed a contract to oversee the Baninga villagers in setting up a coconut plantation.
Not long after Vernon's arrival, Ellie’s natural mother, Laura Griffiths, accepts a government contract to teach in the village. In due course, Vernon and Laura fall in love. They take Ellie with them to Australia for their wedding. Their hope is that once in Australia, which is Ellie’s country of heritage, she will prefer it to life in the Pacific islands.
Follow the story of Ellie in Black Pearls, as she develops into a mature young woman. Cry with her when she mourns the death of her parents, cheer for her when she outwits the black-birders, laugh with her when she is reunited with her natural mother, feel a thrill when she falls in love, and smile at her reaction when she sees strange and wonderful sights for the first time, in Australia.