Jewel of the Pacific

Written by Linda Lee Chaikin
Review by Waheed Rabbani

This novel, the last of the Dawn of Hawaii series, is a saga about the sons and daughters of Christian missionary families. It covers the tumultuous period of Queen Liliuokalani’s reign in the 1890s, her deposition, and the annexation of Hawaii by the United States.

The novel begins evocatively. Rafe Easton rescues his fiancée, Eden Derrington, from his burning mansion. The fire had been set by his evil stepfather. Rafe tracks him down, and in the ensuing fight Rafe is blinded. Although hurriedly sent to San Francisco for specialist treatment, Rafe surprisingly does not meet his betrothed before sailing. Furthermore, Bernice, a former admirer of Rafe, not only waylays his letter to Eden but also performs a mischievous act that pulls the engaged couple apart. Eden is confounded by Rafe’s silence but takes solace in traveling with her father, a physician, to the leper colony on Molokai. Eden returns to Honolulu upon learning that Rafe is back and enjoying Bernice’s company.

The series reads like a lighter rendition of James Michener’s Hawaii. While the conclusion of this Christian historical romance is predictable, the history and the striking descriptions of Hawaiian scenery, flora and fauna make this a pleasurable and informative read.