Lost and found in translation: Being Madeleine
This isn’t my life. This is the “screenplay” (book) I wrote about my life. Janet Frame (and me)
Shell Seekers is a coming of age story of a young part ni-Vanuatu woman trying to reconcile her fragmented past. It is a past that is constructed through memory, fantasy and myth; from memories of an idyllic childhood in paradise, to the realities of educational aspirations in New Zealand, a return home permeated by local sweet/souring of Anglophile and Francophile colonial aftertastes, then as a young woman “in the belly of the beast” that is London, looking for a father and answers.
A romantic encounter proves to be an eye-opener for Madeleine, who finally discovers that her displaced homeward journey is inevitably circular, and what “home” has become is borne out of memory, love and desire; a place she, literally, cannot “return” to again.
Although many original works are often viewed as being semi-autobiographical, all the characters, including the central character of Madeleine Hughes are, in essence, fictions.
Shell Seekers, the first ‘completed’ draft, is an original concept.