Friday, April 4, 2014

Planter's Punch by Margaret Curtis

Planter's Punch by Margaret Curtis. 1962  
Planter's punch-cover
I fear I will not be able to do justice to this fascinating woman's biography. I had never heard of Margaret Curtis, but I was at the Friend's of The Library Book Sale last year and the flowers on the spine of this book caught my eye. I had hoped the title was a reference to the tiki drink that is one of my favorites.  When I read the flyleaf and it mentioned "Tahiti" and "Nordhoff and Hall" I knew I was in.

I fear I might overuse the phrase "truth is stranger then fiction" on the Bibliotiki but gosh darn it, it IS! Pretty much the entire time of reading the account of this womans' life I was bowled over from how interesting and varied it was.

Any short period of her life would be a lifetime for others: "World famous opera singer." "Lived and ran a coconut plantation on Tahiti." "Spent time in an Italian jail" "Had a harrowing escape from Europe during WWII."

I mean COME ON!?!?! Where people just more interesting in the old days?



Margaret Curtis

Plus look at her! Is that the face of someone who stole her husband away from the best Tahitian dancer on the island named Tetua. Apparently it is.

I finished this book about 2 months ago and have been trying to do some research on Margaret to add to my review and have just been coming up short.  I did find a clipping from December 28, 1913 New York Time's that mentioned she sang. Her stage name was Marguerite Valdi.

Sadly, since I waited so long to write this up I realized I have forgotten many wonderful things that happened in this book. As I flip thru it now, it takes me back to when I was reading it and how unbelievable I thought it was.

Here is just a brief outline of her life: She was born in Birmingham, England. Her father was a newspaper writer but due to his poor health they had to move to Australia. There it was discovered she could sing and studied with Nellie Melba, a famous Australian Soprano. Thru the magic of Google, I found out that Nellie is a character on Downton Abbey so there is a tidbit for you fans. Ok back to Margaret. She then went to study music in Paris, got famous, traveled the world, married a rich older  man, got tossed in an Italian jail, husband then died, bought a ticket to a ship traveling overseas, met and married husband #2 who owned a plantation on Tahiti, volunteered to help during WWII, had to quickly escape Europe, husband #2 accidentally dies, moves to San Francisco where she threw elaborate Tahitian themed parties. Phew. That is just the barest of outlines. You need to read the book if you want to fill in the details.

There are many copies of the book available online and many of them signed. My copy came with this card from the publisher so I am assuming mine was a review copy. Sadly, I can't even find Margaret's  birth or death date. If anyone has any info about Margaret, please email me. I am going to keep looking.

In closing, you can buy this book online for around $13 and I guarantee it will be a exciting, fun read. Or maybe you will luck out and find it at your library book sale.
planters1

No comments: