BAIPA Award Winner: Best Historical Fiction
How did Hawaii become part of America? This story, inspired by true events suppressed for nearly 100 years, is the one James Michener never wrote. In 1886, Laura Jennings travels to Hawaii to live with missionary relatives. She imagines she'll live in a grass hut, ministering to savages. When she arrives in Honolulu, she's surprised to find her relatives are among the wealthy elite plotting to overthrow the Hawaiian monarchy. And, far from being savages, the Hawaiians have developed a charming and prosperous Victorian kingdom. To avoid her conniving uncle's control, Laura leaves to work for the royal family and learns her family's prejudices against them are false. The last Queen, Lili-uokalani, wages a tragic struggle to save the Kingdom. Through choices she makes when every avenue is blocked, Laura sees the power that can restore the spirit of a people caught in a turbulent world and discovers how long-hidden secrets of her own family lead the way to reunion.
A vivid portrait of the final days of the Hawaiian monarchy, when descendants of American missionaries toppled the throne. Suppressed for a century, this story is a little-known part of American history. We view it through the eyes of Laura Jennings, who lives in 1886 San Francisco—a city of bonanza millionaires, newfangled cable cars, bustles, and bowler hats. As Laura is being fitted for her wedding gown, a tragic accident kills her father and her fiancé. Suddenly alone in the world, Laura goes to Hawaii to live with relatives she’s never met, little knowing that her destiny will become intertwined with those of Hawaii’s last great sovereigns.
Beautifully and insightfully written, The Last Aloha shines a light on a dark part of Hawaii s history, and challenges us to see each other with both our minds and our hearts the true aloha spirit. Quinn reminds us that this spirit has always been in the hearts of the Hawaiian people, giving us hope that it is within reach of us all. --Q Orianka Kilcher, actress, star of "The New World" and "Princess Ka`iulani" (2009)
I was caught up in the drama and spectacle from the first. Quinn knows her history and is skilled at bringing it to the page. I highly recommend this novel, not just to those with an interest in the Hawaiian Islands, but to all who can appreciate a good yarn. Knowing that much of this one is true made it all the more compelling. --Eileen Goudge, best-selling author of Garden of Lies and Such Devoted Sisters
About the Author
GAELLEN QUINN has a master's degree in International and Community Development, and a bachelor's degree in Linguistics and Chinese. She was development director of the Association for the Cohesive Development of the Amazon (ADCAM), vice president of both Network Action Company and Central Technologies, Inc., and operations and marketing director for the California Wellness Plan. Her writing reflects her passion for diverse peoples, as well as for global themes that affect our personal, social, and spiritual lives. Gaellen Quinn has two daughters, and lives in Moloka`i.