The switch over to 1850s Oregon partway through comes as a surprise, but the story loops back to Hawaii soon enough. Anna Barnett is a determined young woman whose passion for nursing leads her to convert to Catholicism, become a nun, and travel to Honolulu, where competent medical care is sorely needed. Her path draws her to the prominent Farrow family, who appear to be cursed. The Hawaiians’ perspective is shown via a powerful chiefess, Pua, and her daughter, Mahina, who struggle to keep their beliefs alive amid rapid industrial development and an ever-shrinking native population. The broken English they speak in dialogue feels overdone and distracting, however. With its adventurous women, island lore, and stunning scenery, this is a lively read for anyone thinking or dreaming of visiting Hawaii.
Rainbows on the Moon was published by Turner this fall in paperback ($21.95, 460pp). I read it from an Edelweiss e-galley. This review first appeared in November's Historical Novels Review.
I appreciate Barbara Wood's willingness to venture into less familiar settings in her novels. Other books of hers which I've reviewed here previously are The Divining, set in the 1st-century Roman world, and Woman of a Thousand Secrets, set in 14th-century Guatemala and Mexico.