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The Spoils of Eden (The Dawn of Hawaii Series: Book One) Paperback – May 1, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Prolific author Chaikin (For Whom the Stars Shine) begins the Dawn of Hawaii trilogy with this novel, set in 1880s Hawaii, when the island group still had a queen and talk of annexation to the United States was a hot political potato. Leprosy is another relevant historical fact. The leper colony on the island of Molokai is where the mother of nurse Eden Derrington lives and also where baby Kip was found by his prospective adoptive father, Rafe Easton, a Clark Gable–like coffee plantation owner who is Eden's fiancé. Eden is at least as interested in helping her father, Jerome, research a cure for leprosy as she is in marrying Rafe, who doesn't want her to risk her health helping her father chase a phantom. Chaikin uses a big canvas strewn with beautiful details from Hawaii's landscape; she has also researched Hawaiian history. Her intricate plotting compensates for some clumsy writing and lack of depth in a few of the supporting characters. But fans of historicals and epics will like this new evangelical Christian take on what James Michener did so memorably for the state. (May)
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Meanwhile, Rafe's fiancee, Eden (a nurse specializing in tropical diseases and representative for the Board of Health) is assigned the task of trying to get Kip away from Rafe and back to Molokai until he is "officially" cleared of leprosy. There's also tension between her and Rafe due to her desire to work with her father, a doctor, on the leper colony. Rafe prefers her to stay on the mainland, marry him and settle into domesticity.
While I did enjoy the themes of family politics & loyalties, late 19th century politics and social norms, and the history of the leper colonies (specifically the shoddy treatment of lepers by their govt.), I found that I never really became attached to any of the characters, at least not as much as I had hoped. Eden especially got overly preachy for me -- even the characters in the story were telling her to pull back! I realize this is meant to be Christian fiction but even so, it was a bit much for me. The heavy-handed references to the Garden of Eden were cringe-worthy.. almost like the author saying "Did you get that reference? Did you? DID you?" Yes. I got it. Thanks. I will try out the next book in the series to see if I get more into the series, sometimes it takes a book or two for a series to hit its stride.
Eden Derrington is trying to accomplish too much in too little time. Juggling her impending marriage to Rafe and her interest in helping her father Jerome, establish a new clinic for the lepers of Molokai; she also seeks the truth about her mother's fate. Will she loose Rafe's love even as she discovers what it mean to be Dr. Jerome's daughter? And will the questions she has about her mother Rebecca, ever be answered satisfactorily?
The only thing I knew about Hawaii before reading this was that they became a state in 1959 and that they have a tropical climate. But this novel taught me so much more about the state's rich history, and it's first missionaries who gave everything to a people that so desperately needed the word of God. Whether you know a lot or a little about the last state to join the Union, Chaikin weaves a tale of intrigue and mystery that is sure to capture you interest from the very first page.
The Spoils of Eden...by Linda Lee Chaikin
The Dawn of Hawaii Series.....Book One
Rafe Easton and Eden Derrington have been in love since a very early age, and Rafe would love to get married soon, but Eden wants to wait because has her heart set on helping her father search for a cure for leprosy. And Eden's mother living away from the family because she has leprosy is the reason for Eden wanting to find the cure.
In the meantime Rafe rescues an abandoned baby from the leper's island in Hawaii and is determined to adopt him, raising the baby as his own child. That is if the Drs in Hawaii don't take him first, because the threat of leprosy is a danger to all.
And so the drama of life between Rafe and Eden begins. As Eden works with her dad and Rafe strives to do whatever possible to make sure no one touches his new son, what will happen to their relationship?
The early 1900 Hawaiian setting of this story was very interesting and the author's research and detailed writing makes the story seem real. We as readers will know the people, the islands, weather, as well and live on the islands when we finish this series of books.
As we read the journey of these complex characters and a plot that is detailed in developing as well, we find these books are not a fast read, but I enjoyed this writing technique though because the characters seemed to cling to me more, and I got to know them in a more personal way.
I am really looking forward to the other books in this series. This is my first book by Linda Lee Chaikin, and I'm glad I found a new favorite author!
This book way generously provided to me by Moody Publishing. I was not obligated to write a positive review of this book. The review, and opinions in the book are completely mine.
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