Elma Napier’s remarkable memoir chronicles her love affair with the wild Caribbean island of Dominica. It began in 1932 when she turned her back on London’s high society to build a home in Calibishie, a remote village on Dominica’s north coast. There are tales of literary house parties, of war and death, smugglers and servants and, above all, of stories inspired by her political life as the only woman in a colonial parliament. She writes deftly about the island’s turbulent landscapes and her curiosity about the lives and culture of its people.
Elma Napier was born in Scotland in 1892, the daughter of Sir William Gordon Cumming, who was accused of cheating while playing cards with the Prince of Wales. After living in Australia for nine years, Napier settled in Dominica with her second husband in 1932. She became the first woman to sit in any West Indian parliament. Apart from Black and White Sands (written in 1962), she wrote two novels and two memoirs of her early life. She died in Dominica in 1973.