Coconut Chaos

Published by Orion on 12th April 2007

At dawn on 27 April 1789 Fletcher Christian, master’s mate on HMS Bounty, took a coconut to quench his thirst from the supply on the quaterdeck…He thought this an “act of no consequence”, as insignificant as the flutter of a butterfly’s wings. But consequences followed: mutiny; Captain Bligh’s navigation 3000 miles across the Pacific in an open boat in violent weather, without maps or supplies and with starving men; the colonising of Pitcairn Island; the shipwreck on the Great Barrier Reef of HMS Pandora sent to capture mutineers; the seduction of the narrator in a storm at sea in a rudderless yacht…

Hazardous and extraordinary sea voyages drive this story of quest and adventure, courage and villainy. The cast includes the Bounty mutineers, the all-Indian crew of the Tundra Princess – a 17,000-tonne container ship – Lady Myre, an eccentric lesbian aristocrat, Pitcairn Island and sex offenders and the narrator’s ancient mother. The action moves through time and place from eighteenth-century Tahiti to modern-day Pitcairn, from Knightsbridge to Tauranga, from Mangareva to Tubai.

Inspired by chaos theory, Whitbread Prizewinner Diana Souhami brings sparkling wit and originality to a story that weaves together fact and fiction, history and autobiography, humour and danger. She shows how one chance act, one simple random event, had dramatic ramifications and ripple through time.