In this historical novel, Thoene takes us through the last years of the Hawaiian kingdom. The grandchildren of missionaries have become powerful plantation owners and work to take control of the islands. We follow Princess Kaiulani and her best friend Hannah as they travel to England for safety. After being away from their beloved country for years, they return to a dangerous situation.
Interwoven with the story of Hawaii's history is that of Sandi Smith. It is 1973 and her husband has been missing in Viet Nam for over four years. A research trip to Hawaii to interview "Auntie Hannah" and explore Hawaii's history is the diversion she needs.
This is certainly not the best historical novel I have read. The action is slow and plodding. At times I wanted less of the complicated relationships between Princess Kaiulani and her suitors and more of the historical information around which the book is woven. Having the Princess away from the crucial action as the island changes hands was disappointing. Also, the actual result of the "romance" between the Princess and Andrew culminates outside of the book which, again, was a disappointment. While Thoene was good at describing the inside of a room (all of page 27) I felt like I was never really in Hawaii. The captivating descriptions of the locations (shoreline, vegetation, volcanoes, etc.) were missing.
This book is part of a series from Summerside Press. They aim to have such a novel for every state in the U.S. I look forward to trying another in this series, especially my own state.
Summerside Press, 355 pages.