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Tessa 1901   By: (1855-1913)

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Louis Becke's novel, published in 1901, takes readers on an incredible journey through the vivid and untamed landscape of South Pacific islands. Set in the late 19th century, the story revolves around the life of Tessa, a fearless young woman who challenges societal norms of the era. While the title of the book remains a mystery, Becke's masterful storytelling captures the essence of a bygone era.

From the opening pages, readers are transported to a world teeming with intrigue and adventure. Tessa, the protagonist, emerges as a fascinating character whose every action defies the constraints imposed on women during that time. Her spirited nature, combined with Becke's compelling narrative, propels the story forward with a sense of urgency.

Becke's descriptions of the South Pacific islands are vividly rendered, immersing readers in their beauty and exoticism. From the lush rainforests to the sweeping beaches, the author's imagery creates a vivid backdrop against which the characters' lives unfold. The myriad cultures and traditions of the islands are also expertly woven into the narrative, showcasing Becke's deep understanding and respect for the region.

The novel delves into complex themes ranging from colonialism and gender roles to love and societal expectations. Through Tessa's remarkable journey, Becke challenges readers to question the status quo and ponder the true meaning of freedom. Tessa's defiance, as she navigates a world dominated by men, inspires readers to question their own assumptions and perceptions.

One aspect that sets this book apart is Becke's nuanced portrayal of the characters. Each individual, whether friend or foe, is crafted with care and depth. From Tessa's loyal companions to the enigmatic island inhabitants, every interaction reveals another layer of their multifaceted personalities. These well-drawn characters breathe life into the narrative, adding richness and complexity to the story.

Despite its many strengths, Tessa 1901 falls short in a few areas. The pacing, at times, feels uneven, leaving readers eager for a more consistent flow. Additionally, some may find the ending unsatisfying, as loose ends are left unresolved. Nevertheless, these minor shortcomings pale in comparison to the overall impact of the novel.

In conclusion, Tessa 1901 is a captivating tale that transports readers to a world of uncharted territories, where societal norms and personal liberation collide. Becke's vivid prose, coupled with the strength of his characters, brings this era to life in remarkable detail. Although it bears no title, this book remains a hidden gem within the realm of historical fiction, deserving of recognition and praise.

First Page:


By Louis Becke

Unwin Brothers 1901


A small, squat and dirty looking trading steamer, with the name Motutapu painted in yellow letters on her bows and stern, lay at anchor off the native village of Utiroa on Drummond's Island in the Equatorial Pacific. She was about 800 tons burden, and her stained and rusty sides made her appear as if she had been out of port for two years instead of scarcely four months.

At this present moment four of her five boats were alongside, each one piled high over the gunwales with bags of copra, which the steam winch was hoisting in as quickly as possible, for night was drawing on and Captain Louis Hendry, who was then ashore, had given orders to the mate, a burly Yorkshireman named Oliver, to be ready to heave up at six o'clock.

The day had been intensely hot and windless, the sea lay sweltering, leaden hued and misty, and the smoke from the native houses in Utiroa village hung low down amid the groves of coco palms which encompassed it on three sides.

On the after deck of the steamer, under the awning, a man was lying on a bed of mats, with a water bottle and a plate of bananas beside him. Seated cross legged beside him was a native boy, about fifteen years of age, who kept fanning his master's face, and driving away the pestering flies... Continue reading book >>

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