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Condition: Used: Good
Comment: Used in Worn Condition. No CD or Access Code. Ex-library books. Some Markings. Small tears and wear on corners and edges
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Easter Island Paperback – June 1, 2004

3.9 out of 5 stars 112 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Restrained passion and conflicted loyalties drive this sweeping debut novel, in which two women of different eras experience the mysteries of Easter Island. In 1912, Elsa Pendleton's father dies and leaves her to care for her 19-year-old sister, Alice, who is beautiful but not quite right in the head. To secure their position, 22-year-old Elsa marries Edward Beazley, a contemporary of her father's who is an anthropologist with the Royal Geographical Society in England. They travel to Easter Island, where Edward plans to study the giant moai sculptures, and Elsa finds herself immersed in a new and harsh culture. As she contends with revelations concerning her husband and her sister, she befriends the native islanders and becomes engrossed in unlocking the meaning of the symbols she finds on wooden tablets. In a parallel narrative, Greer Farraday, a young American botanist recovering from a disastrous marriage to an older professor, arrives on the island in 1973 to uncover the mystery of the island's lack of native trees. One of Greer's fellow island researchers is Vicente Portales, a cryptographer attempting to interpret the rongorongo tablets and breech Greer's defenses. As Elsa and Greer's stories play out in alternating sections, a third element is intertwined: the tale of Graf Von Spee, the German admiral who led his ill-fated fleet across the South Pacific at the outbreak of World War I. Vanderbes knows how to craft suspense, and the narratives-while packed with vivid historical and scientific detail-move forward on the strength of her fully realized characters. When the connection between Elsa and Greer is revealed, it illuminates the novel. Like the overcast skies of Easter Island, this impressive debut is rich in shades of gray: meteorological, scientific, intellectual and emotional.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Through the interwoven stories of two women 60 years apart, this novel comes close to finding answers to the following age-old mysteries: the World War I defeat of Admiral Von Spee, the existence of the giant statues on Easter Island, the origins of the first flower, and why smart women let men take advantage of them. In 1913, Elsa accompanies her husband and sister to Easter Island for an anthropological study. Once there, she becomes a linguist and discovers the reasons behind the destruction of the giant Moai statues. World War I intervenes before the origins can be revealed to the rest of the world. Sixty years later, botanist Greer Farraday, suffering from the knowledge that her husband plagiarized her work as well as from his death, picks up where Elsa left off. The two compelling characters' stories of betrayal are equally engrossing. The story of Admiral Von Spee is less engaging and rather unbelievably tied to Elsa. This historical novel deftly combines romance, warfare, and science for the rationalist and romantic alike. Marta Segal
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Dial Press Trade Paperback; Reprint edition (June 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385336748
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385336741
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (112 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #730,397 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is a superlative book on many levels. The inquiry into many mysteries surrounding Easter Island is extremely fascinating and thoroughly researched. Scientific issues are discussed in a compelling way that makes the reader understand and enjoy each new revelation, almost like a mystery being solved on C.S.I. At the same time, the two female protagonists are beautifully presented, and although seperated by several generations, their stories become interwoven in the issues that they struggle with in their inner and external lives. As a psychologist I found the description of Alice, the autist and possibly brain-damaged sister of Elsa, as well as their relationship to each other, remarkably and authentically presented. The issues related to women at different ages struggling to become respected scientific researchers are extremely well portrayed. Vanderbes's ability to interweave a myrid of topics- interpersonal, geographical, scientific and historical, is truly amazing.
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Format: Hardcover
I don't understand the poor reviews of this incredible and vital novel. The characters were very compelling, their stories poignant, but even more the history, the scientific research, the mystery of Easter Island itself would have been enough to hold my attention. But then I am not put off by the science, and instead relish it. I wish more books of fiction were this well thought out and included this much science. After reading WOMEN IN THE FIELD there's a whole goldmine of future novels like this one. The way the two stories finally mesh was a sad but satisfying ending. Wonderful, I look forward to more.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a curious and unpredictable novel that could almost be true, for all the Easter Island studies that are its bedrock. It begins with the threads of 3 lives, and deftly spins them into a compelling tale. The first thread is German battleship Admiral von Spee, whose fleet of 8 ships is trying to avoid capture by Allied forces. The second thread is Elsa, a young woman left penniless upon the death of her father, whose plans for the future require caring for her younger sister who suffers from a form of retardation called amentia. And the third is Greer, a dedicated pollen research analyst. How these disparate lives join across space and time at Easter Island is quite a masterful combination of science and storytelling. The barren landscape and mystery of the tumbled statues are investigated and described, and come to symbolize an ancient and unknown culture with parallels to the future hopes and hidden pasts of the various players. The writing is enchanting, with humor, vivid imagery, and poetic expression. The scientific foundation is central to the story, and essential to the characters. This exceptional story will leave you wishing for a plane ticket and your own research grant.
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Format: Hardcover
As a fan of anthropology, history, and tales of "exotic" places, I found this to be a great read, with enough suspense and complexity to keep me turning pages, as well as an abundance of fascinating scientific and historical information. I was in constant thrall of Vanderbese's storytelling ability and the amount of research she obviously did for this project.
I only wish I'd been as captivated by the two main characters themselves, Elsa and Greer. Vanderbese works very hard in her prose to try to help us know who they are -- lots of careful psychological explanations for why they act and feel certain ways -- and yet they still don't quite feel like real, fleshed out people to me.
But this wouldn't keep me from recommending the book highly to anyone -- it's a transporting, cinematic, engrossing story, elegantly told.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Jennifer Vanderbes juggles two main plots and one sub plot with remarkable skill. Easter Island and the history of the statues have always intrigued me. The characters are well drawn, especially the two main women, both of whom are strong and both of whom are betrayed by the men they marry. Although the subplot of Graf Spee is a little too coincidental, I found this an absorbing novel.
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Format: Paperback
Not usually a fan of historical fiction, I found this book to be exciting and mysterious. It's a fascinating look at a strange island that gives you details and facts without letting the story get bogged down in them. It also examines the values of feminism without feeling preachy or forced, by drawing you into the unique lives of the sisters and Greer. I'd recommend it to almost anyone as an easy and enjoyable read.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The many layers of fiction and fact interwoven in this hard-to-define debut impressed me, but it's also a book that may have tried just a little too hard to squeeze everything in.

The title of the book is what immediately pulled me in, but what unfolded between the pages was often less than remarkable. I really wanted to love this book with all of its rich history and impressive science, but the plot and characters seemed flat and uninspiring. The parallel stories with 60 years of separation between protagonists Elsa Beazley and Greer Faraday was a potentially interesting storytelling device that exposed some of the struggles of the women of their respective eras. But I felt the two stories were in conflict with one another being more of a distraction than a means of decoding some of the island's mysterious past. I almost felt like the two stories could have been expanded into two books rather than allowing character development to languish under a heap of heavy-handed fact finding within such a limited narrative space.

There were elements of the book that were compelling such as Greer Farraday's struggles with her identity. Her unfortunate PhD dissertation debacle shed light on the inequities of the sexes during the 60s and 70s and the illusions that often accompany a less than perfect marriage. Her arrival on Easter Island seemed like an opportunity for self redemption. But instead of capitalizing on the complexities of the human psyche, we are often sidelined by exhaustive (though authentic sounding) scientific jargon. I think the book would have been more emotionally riveting if we had been given more opportunity to connect with the Rapa Nui people, the visitors, and the culture surrounding the mysterious beauty of the island.
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