The Hawaiian Archipelago (book review) Isabella Lucy Bird

Six Months Among The Palm Groves, Coral Reefs, And Volcanoes Of The Sandwich Islands


110317: i surprised myself by so enjoying this series of descriptive letters home (with photos!), from a woman traveling for her health in 1872, from edinburgh to warmer climes. remarkable adventures, of its times, even now. if you can ignore her typical 'civilized', 'christian' prejudices, in everything from sugar plantations, missionaries, lack of clothes (!), 'sensuousness', 'heatheness', this is an interesting view of life in hawai'i about a hundred years after european contact from a privileged (white woman) visitor point of view...


this is old hawai'i, a brief monarchy, before annexation by the states, before it became world-famous and modernized. locals are often unnamed, often described as beautiful, as all having nice teeth. she travels into valleys by perilous cliffs, travels into active volcanoes and dead volcano craters, loves hilo, less honolulu, so travels mostly on the big island. when she visits kaua'i she does visit hanalei bay- but somehow manages not to see waimea canyon (!). generally gives a good idea of 'aloha' of hawai'ian life, of kindness, openness, generosity...


she was here only six months but saw and did a lot. she is able to see the bad as well as good effects of europeans on the islands, mostly sailors corrupting innocence, missionaries saving souls. i recognize many of the places, i recognize many of the attitudes, i am on vacation here in waimea and found this as one of mom's books. town library is small so i brought six books... but this was unplanned. beautiful remembrances. if you like long descriptive wanderings, if you like to know exactly what this and this and the other plant is...

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if you like this review, i now have website: www.michaelkamakana.com 220611: this is probably the most academically accurate of the translations I have read of this book, but still prefer commentary o