Publisher's description: With its green cliffs and silvery waterfalls, Hawaii offers radiant hope to Rulan and Pao An - exiles from China, immigrants with the will to succeed despite hardship and prejudice and enemies from their homeland. But his proud couple's hardest struggle will be with their own child - Mulan, called Molly.
Born in Hawaii's sacred hills, Molly grows to despise the old Chinese ways. Locked in perpetual combat with her parents,she is drawn into a dangerous love affair with a glamorous but decadent poet, a protege of the (Hawaiian) king. And even as he family's fortunes rise, Molly's mother watches in sorrow, fearing that her child will realize too late that happiness lies far closer to home.
Beautifully told, A Map of Paradise offers the colorful sweep of history with the satisfaction of characters intimately revealed.
My comments: The Chinese immigrant Pao An worked in California before joining his wife Rulan and their daughter in Hawaii, called the Blessed Isles. There they built a life for themselves and formed a community with other immigrants. The core of the novel are the love stories of young Pao An and his wife Rulan, of their daughter Molly and the half-Hawaiian poet she lived with and loved, and of the quiet boy Lin Kong, whom Molly had grown up with and many times spurned as an adult.
This historical novel describes the arrival of the Chinese as laborers for the sugar plantations in Hawaii in the mid 1800s, and of their gradual integration into the island economy as farmers, traders, and businessmen. The novel tells of the exhaustive work in forming a Chinatown community out of the two warring groups of Chinese - the Punti and Hakka clans.
The book also details the history of the Hawaiian kingdom and the dying off of important members of its royal family in the latter part of the 19th century, giving way to increasing American and British influence and control of the islands.
Rating: I gave this novel five stars for its descriptive storytelling and its detailed historical content on the Hawaiian kingdom and the settling of immigrants there in the late 1800s.
A Map of Paradise was printed in 1997 by Bantam Books. I read this book as part of a reading challenge, which requires 10 books on China or by Chinese authors, now through Sept. 1, 2010: The China Challenge. I also submitted it for the Chill Baby, Chill! review challenge and the 100 + Reading Challenge.
Member of Amazon Associates