In 1969 Jean Austin's husband was appointed Colonial Secretary of the Falkland Islands and they were transported to a remote outpost of the British colonies. While there Austin immersed herself in island life, fulfilling the duties of a Colonial Secretary's wife. A Falklands Diary is her sensitive and perceptive memoir of these years. After arriving by the only possible means of transport to the Islands from Montevideo on a small mail boat, the R.M.S. Darwin, Jean Austin and her husband encountered a world unlike any to which they were accustomed. The cold and windswept terrain was radically different from previous postings in The Gambia and Nigeria, while the Islands' culture clearly reflected its seclusion. As Colonial Secretary, her husband participated in the Islands' administration and their old-fashioned ceremonies but it was generally an austere lifestyle with little opportunity for news from the outside world. Nevertheless before long they were fully integrated into this new life - just in time for another flare-up in British-Argentine relations that brought delegates, diplomats, journalists and engineers to the islands, disrupting life and signalling the changes to come. Engaging and illuminating, A Falklands Diary paints a portrait of a mostly static culture defined by its remoteness and barren geography. At the same time, Austin's story reveals how global politics were slowly changing the Falklands' relationship with the rest of the world. Although seemingly removed from the drama of the Falklands War of the following decade, Austin's experience foreshadows the impending conflict and the Islands' growing geopolitical significance, casting fresh light on the history of these enigmatic islands.
Winds of Change in a Distant Colony