Fiji; the internet photos show sun, sand and blue skies; the articles talk about cannibalism, coups and tourism. Not very fond of reading on screens, I turn to find a book which will introduce me to Fiji. It was difficult to choose one – the choices were narrowed down to –
 Getting Stoned with Savages: A Trip Through the Islands of Fiji and Vanuatu by J Maarten Troost
 Kalyana by Rajni Mala Khelawan
 Kava in the Blood by Peter Thomson
Pieces of Happiness: A Novel of Friendship, Hope and Chocolate by Annie Ostby
I chose the last one – Pieces of Happiness by Annie Ostby. The book arrived from Amazon on 9 July. Started right away.
Five ladies – Kat, Sina, Maya, Lisbeth and Ingrid; schoolmates and now in their late sixties, reunite in Fiji to spent their sunset years together, but not without skepticism; whether this endeavour will succeed or will it end up as a short vacation on the Pacific island. Kat, a recent widow, has a house there and a cocoa farm; sends invites to the others to leave everything behind and join her.
A page turner and a delightful read; I want to know more about the characters, more about Fiji and how they adjust with each other. The stories of their pasts are familiar and the schoolmates have their differences and secrets. Their new life unfolds on “Fiji time” and the chapters alternate between the present and the past, peeling the layers off their lives.
The book has interesting nuances of Fiji life – Nadi, the port of entry to Fiji is actually pronounced as Nandi, the flower worn on the left or right ear has a significance as ” Left is for looking, right is for cooking”, one of the favourite souvenirs is the miniature cannibal forks and many more.
A home for old ladies – hardly, as they decide to value add to the cocoa business by making chocolates. Under the watchful eye of the housekeeper Ateca the ladies start getting used to each other and the Fijian way of life – the food, rituals and customs, challenges of old age together with the excitement of a new business. After 60, can such a stunt be pulled off ? I don’t want to spoil the surprise.
The story was translated from Norwegian to English by the author’s daughter and for such a good story I have only one word “Vinaka” !!