June Sandusky, Seattle businesswoman, sells her income property and moves to Tonga to start a spiny lobster nursery in the sea. She lives in a palm frond fale sans running water and electricity and struggles against the male dominated culture, the sea and buried memories of an abusive relationship before a cyclone rips through the islands and frees her to share an uncommon love with one good man.
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A Farm in the South Pacific Sea
Successful American business woman June Sandusky, emotionally bereft after a third childless marriage, invests her savings in a South Pacific adventure that will restore her soul and win her the admiration of Tongan women, three of whom name a child in her honor. The Tongan alphabet lacks the letter 'J;' islanders spell her name Sune and call her Soo'nay.
Early in her stay in Tonga, June debarks on a search for a farmable lagoon with Tavita Tlupioni, half British Tongan married to a woman with royal heritage. His wife lives in religious seclusion since bearing a daughter and a requisite son. A strong attraction develops between June and Tavita, but she is determined to pursue her project. She settles on Mango Island, 8 hours by sea from the main island where he lives.
June hires a carpenter who helps finish building her palm frond house and a sea-worthy raft. She keeps him with her as her chief diver. In time she accepts him as her lover, but his desire to give her a baby drives a wedge in their relationship. She is unable to bear children.
June copes with many crises including an island woman's at-risk pregnancy, spousal rape that takes place on her veranda, a tee boy's serious injury with no craft available to sail him to medical services and her own threatened health due to lung damaging from being on scuba for extended periods.
She establishes an in-sea spiny lobster farm that attracts attention of developing nations around the world, and in the process finds the sense of worth she'd been seeking since her first marriage at age 17-a marriage forced by her mother.
Nuku'alofa, Tongatapu Island, Tonga, 1967
The customs official grasped her papers in one hand, tapped them against the other hand's open palm and looked her down and up. She owndered if he'd ask to see her teeth. "june Sandusky," he said, no inflection is his voice. "But there must be some mistake. You are a woman."
"Yes, I am." She entered the Kingdom of Tonga as the American diver invited by the king to establish a spiny lobster nursery in the sea. She arrived with a six month visa and a sense that she came prepared for life in a male-dominated culture. After all, she'd worked alongside men in Seattle shipyards during the mid-forties, the tunnel under Russian Hill in San Francisco at the end of that decade into the fifties. She could fly an airplane.