LAST NIGHT I dreamt I was back on Count de Mauny Island, no doubt because I had been reading this book. As I write, I am sitting in the Weligama Rest House on a sweltering afternoon. The Rest House overlooks the tiny island immediately across from Weligama beach and approachable on foot only at low tide. At high tide one either wades in up to one's neck or is carried to the island de Mauny named Taprobane - the old name by which Sri Lanka itself had once been known.
I have waited for this biography for many years. De Mauny is a name out of my past: over sixty years ago, before Ceylon's independence,- my family used to rent this little island off its coast for the most idyllic holidays we spent together. I cannot remember any point in my childhood when I was havvier - L A swimming in the surf, being carell of the undertow, trudgmg across to the Rest House for string hoppers and prawn curry. I remember distinctly the north-west room where I slept, with its view over the endless blue Indian Ocean. There is nothing between this tiny island and the South Pole.
I have always