Author: Gaellen Quinn
Title: The Last Aloha
Top 3 reasons why I chose this book:
1. It was on the Q shelf.
2. I like the cover.
3. It's set in 1886 in the "exotic islands of Hawaii."
(And Hawaii is ALWAYS a good idea.)
Top 3 reason why I'm glad I did:
1. Laura Jennings is a charming heroine: sympathetic, independent, intelligent, and strong-willed. When her father and fiance are killed in a carriage accident in San Francisco, she goes to live with her father's missionary relatives in Honolulu. Only they're not missionaries any more; and Hawaii is not at all what she expected.
2. Good writing! Here's a sample:
Down the moonlit path, they stopped next to a lily pond. The full moon, reflected in the still water, made the dark trees and pale lily flowers stand out in black-and-white relief ... Past a grove of sandalwood trees, the illumined foliage gave way to a vista of glistening sand, and beyond, the promised sterling sea. A swath of moonlight rippled on the water, and all around was mystic silver, all colors blended into one.
Laura looked at the shimmering ocean, which extended into the oblivion of deep night. Back there somewhere, in some direction, was the life she'd left. Bustling San Francisco with the clanging cable cars, her admittance papers to medical college still in some folder in a file cabinet, waiting to be thrown out. The little dry goods shop on Kearny Street with the upstairs apartment, now inhabited by strangers, and two fresh graves with small headstones among the marble monuments at Laurel Hill Cemetery.3. The Hawaiian setting. Not only does the story take place on the beautiful island of Oahu, but through Laura's friendship with Queen Lili'uokalani, it also relates the sad history of the last king and queen of Hawaii, and the turmoil created by the wealthy elite of the Missionary Party as they worked to overthrow the monarchy, push the royal family from power, and make Hawaii part of the United States. Sadly, the second half of the novel bogged down for me because it moved away from Laura's story and concentrated on the politics of Hawaii's history and its royal family. I really wish the author had concentrated more on Laura, and what happened to her, but I did end up learning a lot.