Sunday, November 7, 2010

For Whom the Stars Shine by Linda Chaikin

book cover

For Whom the Stars Shine
by Linda Chaikin

ISBN-13: 1-55661-647-3
Trade Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Released: 1999

Source: Bought through

Book Description from Back Cover:
Set in Hawaii in 1888 to 1891, Eden Derrington's world is in disorder. When she was young, her mother died in a boating accident that no one in the family wants to talk about. Her father travels far and wide looking for a cure for leprosy as the disease gets worse on the islands and Hawaiians who catch the disease--no matter their influence--are forced to live in isolation on the island of Molokai. For years, she's lived with an uncle and his native wife who continue the family's missionary past by ministering to the native Hawaiians. But recently she's been taken to live with an uncle and aunt who own a huge plantation.

The family is dividing down political lines. The king of Hawaii is ill and may die soon. The plantation owners are worried that his sister will make political ties with Britain instead of America when she becomes queen. Eden's uncle is pressuring America to take Hawaii as a territory and make it a republic. Her aunt is a staunch supporter of the queen's right to rule.

But when Eden receives a mysterious note implying that her mother's accident was really a hushed-up murder, Eden begins to question everything she thought she knew. If only she could remember that night when she last saw her mother; the night Eden fell down a flight of stairs and hurt her head...

My Review:
For Whom the Stars Shine is a historical set mainly in Hawaii from 1888 to 1891. It also has a fairly typical romance and a mystery about Eden's mother's death. However, it's primarily a historical novel, and anyone skilled in solving mystery novels will probably have this mystery figured out before the book is halfway done.

Daily and social historical details were woven into the story which created a vivid picture of what life was like then. There was also a lot of information on the (past) Hawaiian missionary movement and (current) political turmoil in Hawaii due to the plantation owners wanting to have Hawaii made an American territory. If you're not interested in this, then you'll probably find the level of detail a little heavy since more information was given than was strictly needed. However, if you are interested, this story is a very enjoyable way to learn about about this history.

The characters were engaging, though Eden was rather naive and the only other character we really got to know was Rafe. The suspense was created by the mystery surrounding Eden's mother's death and the family discord.

There was a high level of Christian content, from giving the history of the missionaries on Hawaii to a preacher character who liked to quote Scripture. But I didn't feel like any of it was preaching at the reader. There was no bad language or sex. Overall, I'd recommend this novel as an enjoyable way to learn more about this period in Hawaiian history.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from Chapter One
On Oahu, near Honolulu
Pearl Lagoon, Kea Lani Plantation

White moonlight filtered through the palms and reflected from rain beads, illuminating the distant wooden cross on the small mission church founded by Eden Derrington's parents. Nineteen-year-old Eden galloped her horse along the wet sandy beach as leafy fronds shook overhead. She must hurry! Would Ambrose still be at the church?

It was after ten. The night was full of wind, shaking trees and raising ocean waves that inched closer toward the narrow dirt road.

Not far from the little church, a golden light glowed in a window of a thatched-roof house built on silts. Nearby, heaps of coconuts, bananas, and mangoes shone with pale muted tints of yellow-golds and browns.

Eden urged her mare onward, its dainty hooves kicking up sand. She had just left a prestigious dinner at Kea Lani Plantation House, and there hadn't been time to change into her riding habit. As she raced along, her silken frock flowed in the moonlight, the stylish Victorian eggshell lace at the high neck and wrists fluttering like nervous bird wings. A strand of her ebony hair had come loose from its sedate chignon and whipped over her shoulder. Eden's eyes, like two green peridots, shone in the moonlight. She breathed gulps of warm, moist, salty air mingled with a strange potpourri of sweet-scented flowers that shook on tall bushes and robust vines.

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