Friday, March 26, 2010
Wonderful Review of Wai-nani from Good Reads
I have read quite a few historical fiction novels that take place in Hawaii, but none quite like this. It's not about leprosy or American colonization or even sugar cane plantations, but the natives of Hawaii and their lives, customs, superstitions, and rules before the white man's arrival. It follows a young woman, Wai-nani, the daughter and wife of chiefs. She is a woman of the sea and swims with dolphins and even "converses" with them. Let me be clear about that. She doesn't converse with them like a child would her favorite dog, but has the ability to make the dolphin sounds and clicks to convey her point.
Wai-nani leaves home after breaking a tabu. She literally swims into the arms of Makahu, who becomes her husband. She must now be accepted by his people, tolerate another wife, deal with barreness, and watch her husband deal with the inner turmoil and struggles that often afflict a fighting warrior. The arrival of Captain Cook does not improve matters on the island either. All thru these tribulations, Wai-nani has her own inner turmoils being a strong minded woman in a time when women were not even allowed to eat with the men.
Whenever Wai-nani's life story comes to a "lull" or she is is not swimming with her dolphin family to attain her inner peace, the author manages to interweave stories of the Hawaiian gods and godesses into the primary tale. From Lono's missing wife to waterfalls in love, these "myths" add a nice touch. Not to mention the descriptions... I really felt as tho I was in Hawaii and felt the water around me.
In the author's preface, she asks readers to be the judge. Was Ka'ahumanu (Wai-nani) a forerunner to the modern woman and a daring liberator, or was she a traitor to her times? Having completed this, I have come to my own conclusion. You must come to yours.
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