The Reverend Timothy Fortune, ex-clerk of the Hornsey Branch of Lloyds Bank, has spent ten years as a South Seas Island missionary when a 'maggot' impels him to embark on what he describes as a 'sort of pious escapade' - an assignment to the even more remote island of Fanua, where a white man is a rarity.
Mr Fortune is a good man, humble, earnest - he wishes to bring the joys of Christianity to the innocent heathen. But in his three years on Fanua he makes only one convert - the boy Lueli, who loves him. This love, and the sensuous freedom of the islanders produces in Mr Fortune a change of heart which is shattering... />
Beautifully imagined, the paradise island and its people are as vivid as a Gauguin painting. Told with the driest of wise humour, touching and droll by turns, its theme - that we can never love anything without messing it about - is only one of the delights of this enchanting book.