Lost: a literary treasure, last seen in Tonga
Moskowitz's search for Dow Mossman wasn't easy, but he did at least begin his journey holding a copy of Mossman's one and only book. The Stones of Summer may have been out of print for decades, but the information on its jacket and on its opening pages guided Moskowitz to a series of people - a publisher, a photographer, a retired creative writing teacher with a passion for greyhound racing - who were able to give him stories about Dow Mossman, as well as offer guesses about the man's location.
Since 1997 Anne Amundsen has been searching for a long-lost book and author, but her task is more daunting than the one Mark Moskowitz faced. Anne is searching for a novel she remembers reading in the middle years of the 1980s, when she lived with her diplomat husband in Nuku'alofa, the capital of the Kingdom of Tonga. She remembers the book's locations, and a good deal of its plot, but not its name or author.
A friend of Anne recently sent a description of the book she is hunting to the e mail loop of the Tonga Research Group. Because this blog is haunted by bibliophiles - Jack Ross, who has made an online catalogue for his vast private library, and Richard Taylor, who lives and works amidst book-rubble, are both regular commenters - I offered to post Anne's message here, in the hope that she might get the sort of help which made Mark Moskowitz's quest an ultimately successful one.
Here's Anne's e-mail:
For a decade now I have been searching for a missing book, based in Tonga. It was definitely fiction - it was definitely 'located' in Tonga - and my uncle was definitely mentioned (without doubt). My search for this book is entirely on account of the reference to my uncle, which I feel my family should be able to read and treasure. Regrettably all I can remember is that . . . :
The book I am trying to find was read by me when we lived in Nuku'alofa between 1985-1987 (my husband was the New Zealand High Commissioner at that time). After reading the book, I lent it to a Tongan who did not return it to me, although my husband also read it before it went AWOL! As you will see from the details below, the story was based in Tonga. My extensive enquiries, over the years since, have led me to believe that nobody in Tonga has read this book (apart from my husband and me)! This is surprising, since it was very exciting. Being located in Tonga it is amazing to me that nobody there seems to know anything at all about this book! Any assistance would be enormously appreciated, thank you.
1) It is a NOVEL, not historical fact. Published no later than 1987, but more likely no later than 1986.
2) It is 'located' in TONGA - I think some of the characters 'stayed' at the Dateline Hotel.
3) Some action takes place underwater in the Tonga Trench.
4) Hong Kong somehow comes into the story because in this novel is mentioned my uncle, Captain Bob (Robert) Newton of the 5th/7th Rajput Regiment, Indian Army, who was killed in Hong Kong during the Japanese invasion of 1941. His heroic death, under fire, is chronicled in this book - quite extraordinary, since the book is fictional and about TONGA - not Hong Kong .
5) I think the book is a thriller (or possibly science fiction, though less likely).
6) It has to have been published in 1987 or prior to that (definitely not later).
7) However, books which it is NOT, are:
Friendly Isles: a tale of Tonga , by Patricia Ledyard, Vava'u Press 1984 - NO.
On Their Majesties Service, by Captain C.H. Hill-Willis, Neptune Press 1983 - NO
The Fire Has Jumped, edited by Garth Rogers, Institute of Pacific Studies 1986 - NO
Lost Paradise, Ian Cameron, Salem House Publications, Topsfield , Mass. , 1987. NO
Night of Error, by Desmond Bagley, St. Martins 1987 - NO.
Solomon's Seal, by Hammond Innes, Collins 1980. - NO
Sphere, by Michael Crichton, Knopf 1987. - NO
Steel Tiger, by Stirling Silliphant, Ballantine 1983 - NO
Pacific Odyssey, by Gwenda Cornell, Coles 1985 - NO
Rascals in Paradise by James A. Michener - NO
Tempest and Torment by Graeme Clarke - NO
The Trulove (O'Brian) - NO
Peking Incident (Atcheson)- NO
Lighter Than A Feather (Westheimer) - NO
Shanghai (Marshall) - NO
The Admiral (Dibner)- NO