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Breadfruit: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Célestine Vaite
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $12.99
Kindle Price: $8.00
You Save: $4.99 (38%)
Sold by: Hachette Book Group

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Book Description

Not since Precious Ramotswe made her first appearance in The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency has a novel's heroine so immediately and completely won readers' hearts. Materena Mahi, "the best listener in Tahiti," is warm and generous, a natural problem solver, versed in the folk wisdom of her native island home. When a drunken Pito proposes to Materena, she initially thinks it's just the booze talking. But Materena can't help starting to plan for a fabulous wedding. Right away she's off making inquiries on behalf of "a friend of her boss." From Cousin Moeata, Materena learns that the cake is the most important part of the wedding. From Mama Teta, she's given to understand it's the ride to the church that really counts. Cousin Georgette insists that the real key to a wedding is the dancing. As Materena juggles all this helpful advice, she forges on with everyday life--her relatives, her new baby boy, church on Sunday, cleaning her boss's never ends! Soon, though, Pito seems to have forgotten his proposal. Should Materena be fiu of this heartbreaker? Célestine Vaite's latest tale of big dreams on a small island will leave readers cheering.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Native Tahitian Vaite returns to the charming world of Materena Mahi, the "professional cleaner" and mother of three introduced in early 2006's Frangipani. This second installment begins when Pito Tehana, the father of Materena's children, drunkenly proposes marriage. Though he's forgotten about it by morning, Materena can't get it out of her head. In between jobs, caring for her kids and visits with her many cousins, Materena fantasizes about her wedding, even though Pito does nothing but dash Materena's hopes; in one of the book's most moving chapters, Materena scrimps to buy Pito a silk shirt for his birthday, but when he opens it, he grumpily tells her to return it and buy him a case of beer. Although the novel is driven by Materena's intense longing, it's peppered with witty encounters between Materena and her nosy family members. Among the wide cast of friends and family, there's Cousin Giselle, who gave birth in the back of a Mercedes Benz; Mama Roti, Pito's doting mother; Mama Teta, who drives a wedding car; and Rita, Materena's favorite cousin. None are particularly nuanced, but when combined with Vaite's light touch and the exotic setting, the result is redolent of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series—a delightful diversion. (Sept. 4)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Like Alexander McCall Smith in his No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, Vaite (Frangipani, 2005) excels at depicting the warm sense of community that pervades her Tahitian island setting. Although Matarena Mahi has lived with her man, Pito, for 12 years and they have three children, they have never married. So when a drunken Pito proposes one night, Matarena's spirits soar. Not quite ready to put the news out on the "coconut radio," she surreptitiously gathers the necessary info: from ace baker Moeata, she learns the cost of a delicious chocolate cake, and from professional disc jockey Georgette, the kind of music to be played at the reception that will keep people dancing all night. But by the time Matarena has finished gathering the details, a sober Pito has failed to follow through on his proposal. Soon Matarena is crying copiously every time she hears Edith Piaf sing a love song. Will she ever feel like she is truly loved? In charming fashion, Vaite conveys universal truths about men and women and the mysteries at the heart of every romantic relationship. Joanne Wilkinson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • File Size: 967 KB
  • Print Length: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books (May 30, 2009)
  • Sold by: Hachette Book Group
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00295XKLA
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #290,180 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A laugh-out-loud, feel-good novel! August 29, 2006
Celestine Vaite's Breadfruit is a reviewer's dream. An earthy mix of the literary, the romantic, and the eccentric, Breadfruit follows the love crisis of Materena Mahi.

Materena and the father of her three children, Pito, have lived together on the island of Tahiti for fourteen years, but marriage has been nowhere on the horizon. One night, in a drunken stupor, Pito finally proposes to Materena. Materena is thrilled and wastes no time imagining her perfect wedding: pricing a chocolate cake and a wedding chauffeur and eyeing a luxurious new bed for a wedding gift.

But after fourteen years is Pito what she really wants? And was he even truly proposing? Materena fantasizes about her perfect wedding, all the while wondering if she's just letting her heart overwhelm reality.

Meanwhile, life on the island stops for no woman and daily dramas keep Materena busy. Cousin Giselle gives birth in a Mercedes, Materena's mother insists on talking to her dead grandmother for hours, and there are the free tiles Cousin Lily is giving away--not to mention the kids. Romance runs rampant throughout Vaite's novel, reinforcing what all women know--that love conquers all and family is the toughest job in the world.

Vaite's novel is populated with quirky characters and tales--like the pink peg Materena's daughter wears to give her a more perfectly pointed nose. The short-short chapters that read like flash fiction emphasize the eccentric, free-flowing attitude of the narrative, and the novel's unusual structure, all allow Vaite to work in more fully developed characters and to play with the sense of time, following back stories where appropriate and the side characters' own romantic dilemmas (did I mention that romance runs rampant?).
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it! October 8, 2006
BREADFRUIT by Celestine Vaite

October 8, 2006

Amazon Rating: 4.5/5 stars

This is the second book by Celestine Vaite that I've read, and I loved them both. Both books take us into the world of Materena Mahi, a hard working professional cleaner who is raising her two children in Tahiti, with the help (somewhat) of her man, Pito. BREADFRUIT is the story of Materena and her mission to get Pito to fulfill his marriage proposal (of course it doesn't' help that he was drunk when he made the proposition).

Readers will love the antics of Materena and her friends and family, as they get along each day, living in poverty. But their lives don't seem to be that of poor underprivileged people. They are rich in family, and their children, at least Materena's are fulfilling the dreams that the older generation could not. You will laugh and cry along with Materena as she experiences life in Tahiti, surviving as best she can, and making sure the man in her life goes through with that marriage proposal.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
BREADFRUIT is one of two books thus far in a series written by Celestine Vaite, a Tahiti native, that centers on Materena Mahi and her family and friends on the island of Tahiti. FRANGIPANI introduced Materena to America; "the best listener in Tahiti" is warm and generous, a natural problem solver. This first novel took us from her early days with her man, Pito, and her three children to focus on her journey to find herself. It was the story of her search for her calling in life, ending with her daughter's entrance into college and Materena's budding new career as a talk show radio hostess.

BREADFRUIT, which was originally published first, features nearly everyone from FRANGIPANI, but the plot focuses on Materena's desire to marry. Most Tahitians don't have a need to marry, but there are a few weddings here and there, and Materena is deep down envious when she sees those newlyweds speeding off in Mama Teta's wedding car. When Pito (in a drunken state) asks Materena to be his wife, she cannot contain herself. It's too good to be true (and it is). She begins planning and researching what she needs to get ready for her big wedding day. In between her planning, life goes on.

As in FRANGIPANI, BREADFRUIT is a series of chapters that takes snippets of Materena's life with anecdotes and stories about various people in her family. The stories, told in a very casual, chatty manner --- as is Materena's way --- are funny, often hilarious and sometimes sentimental. There's the incident with the carpet that her cousin Lily was to give away to Materena, and Materena uses it to give her house a new look. (Unfortunately the carpet is a vibrant green.) There's the time when she is asked to appear in court because she and her children were caught trespassing on private property.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Fun sequel January 9, 2009
In Breadfruit, a sequel to Frangipani, we find Materena Mahi planning for a fabulous wedding, after receiving a wedding proposal from a drunken Pito--who may have forgotten his original proposal the morning after. Although the couple, and their three children have been together for fourteen years, this is the first time she is planning a wedding. As she visits with various friends and family members, we get a feel for what rural life in Tahiti is like, while she is busy gathering helpful advice from her friends and family about planning for her wedding.

The story is full of quirky characters, told in short chapters about the exploits of Materena and her family and friends. It is filled with lots of funny tales that will have you chuckling out loud.
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