I picked up this book in the library and one of the things I noticed first about the book was that the edges of the pages have become soft from the hands and fingers of hundreds of readers. The book has been rebound in one of those lovely flat blue library covers. In the back Marsha left her phone number on a yellow sticky note which I have suspicions might be for a support group for those that have started and failed to finish reading Hawaii.
937 pages later I can say that this book is a two star book, a three star book and a four star book. I'm always generous so I decided to bump to three star because there were sections that were really fascinating to read. The book is broken up into 6 sections with each section dealing with a new generation or a new half generation with cross over characters from the previous books. I'm sure a good editor today could slice and cut this book down to 600 pages without losing too much of the intent of the writer.
I read somewhere that this book has done more for Hawaiian tourism than any other book published about Hawaii. Published in 1959 and read by my mother, and most of my aunts, and some uncles I would say it probably did contribute to a lifelong longing for my mother to vacation in Hawaii. The power of the pen.
The part that I enjoyed the most was the hard work and entrepreneurship that Michener explored with the white missionaries, the influx of Chinese workers, and later the arrival of the Japanese. Each group contributed to major changes in how affairs are conducted on the island. Really Hawaii was a microcosm of capitalism working the way it is suppose to.
Michener is best described as a storyteller. Sometimes I felt he might be trying too hard to be a modern day Dickens. His writing doesn't have the snap and pop of what I consider to be a great writer. I try to always include a few passages from a book I read to share with goodreads readers so they can get a feel for the writer's writing style, but in this case the notes I made to check back on passages were too bland to get me excited about building a review around them.
I might have given Michener four stars except for the fact that checking with a travel writer, that I respect, I was told that there are simply too many inaccuracies with the historic data of Michener's books. I understand that it is fiction, but I do expect historical writers to adhere to some rules. I love historic novels because I feel they can put flesh on the bones of real people and produce conversations and dialogue that could legitimately have happened. What I don't like is if they take a historical event and manipulate aspects so much that the reader is left with a totally unrealistic view of history. An exception of course is alternative history where I expect the writer to completely change the outcome of history, a good example is Fatherland by Robert Harris.
I have put a Shoal of Time: a History of the Hawaiian Islands
by Gavan Dawes in my queue to read so that I can hopefully be exposed to a more historical accurate version of Hawaii. I may find that I can live with whatever changes to history that Michener wrote into his book. Do I recommend this book? I can't say that I would. If I'm looking for a monster of a book that I can spend some real time with again I'm pulling Moby-Dick off the shelves. A story that never gets old, and a book that new things are discovered with each reading.