Intriguing History – History of Intrigue
I thoroughly enjoyed this book – both for the story it tells and the way it captures the incredibly interesting historical forces that swirled around the Hawaiian monarchy in the late nineteenth century. What makes the tale even more compelling is that those historical forces are so little known and appreciated. The story will keep you turning pages. The history will give you an appreciation of Hawaii you never had before. All-in-all, that’s a formula for a great historical novel.
– Frank Haas, Director for Strategic Development
University of Hawaii School of Travel
Former VP, Hawaii Tourism Authority
From O.A. Bushnell’s 1956 “The Return of Lono”, about Captain Cook, to James Houston’s 2007 “Bird of Another Heaven”, about King Kalakaua, some of the best accounts of Hawaii’s past have come not from scholars, limited by both the gaps and the bias in the historical records, but from fiction writers, able to build on those records with acts of insight and imagination that bring them closer to the probable truths. Gaellen Quinn’s novel of Queen Lili’uokalani, “The Last Aloha”, is a book of this sort. In its pages you can see the Queen moving through her private as well as her political struggles much as she must have done in life. A vivid portrait not only of the Queen but of the confluence of forces that turned the island Kingdom into an appendage of the United States when it had barely come into its own, “The Last Aloha” is as empathetic and accurate a reconstruction of the downfall of the Hawaiian monarchy as it may be possible to get. Hawaiian readers, who already know so much of the Queen’s story, will be moved to see it once again so inexorably unfold. Other readers will have much to learn.
– Elinor Langer, author of “Famous are the Flowers:
Hawaiian Resistance Then–And Now”
Special Issue of The Nation, April 28, 2008
Spreading the word of god is something some people take too far. “The Last Aloha” is a novel of the fall of the prosperous Hawaiian kingdom. A missionary family seems intent with stopping the ‘pagan’ culture, but one of them wants none of the subterfuge. A riveting story of the glory of the Hawaiian kingdom, “The Last Aloha” is a top pick that should not be overlooked.
– Midwest Book Review
Gaellen Quinn’s first novel explores the shifting tides of loyalty and passion in late-19th-century Honolulu. With a sharp eye for detail, Quinn offers a nuanced portrait of a kingdom’s final breaths, a tale of discovery and intrigue that holds the reader’s interest from the first page.
— Honolulu Weekly
Beautifully and insightfully written, this book shines a light on a dark part of Hawaii ’s history, and challenges us to see each other not just with our minds, but also with our hearts – which is the true aloha spirit. The Last Aloha reminds us that this spirit has always been in the hearts of the Hawaiian people and gives us hope that it’s within reach for us all. From the moment I opened the cover with the amazing painting by Princess Ka‘iulani, I couldn’t put the book down!
– Q’Orianka Kilcher, actress and star of
Terrence Malick’s, The New World ; and Princess Ka‘iulani (2009 release)
As a native Hawaiian, I appreciate Quinn’s approach to how the Western protagonist comes to know the islands and their people. As a specialist in Hawaiian history and international law, I also appreciate the historical accuracy. I’m recommending The Last Aloha to all my family and friends.
— Keanu Sai, Ph.D.
A work of towering historical majesty, The Last Aloha propels us into a story as exotic and seductive as any of the Hawaiian Islands—before the tourists arrived. This is a journey far off the beaten track, an elegy to a world lost by being found.
— Sarah Bird, author of The Yokota Officers Club and Virgin of the Rodeo
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 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
“The Last Aloha marries the ancient Hawaiian wisdom of ho’o pono pono to restore balance and harmony, with how Queen Lili’uokalani’s aloha spirit lives on in the multicultural, multiracial identity of modern Hawaii. An engaging story from a storyteller with a love of detail and character, and the ability to see history through the energy and compassion of extraordinary women. I recommend it for anyone who yearns to get beyond the tourist image of Hawaii and glimpse its beauty and complexity.”
— Helen Shaw, President, Athena Media, and former head of Irish Public Radio