My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I read this final book of the The Mutiny on the Bounty Trilogy first, and it has made me want to read the rest, despite it being a heartbreaking book in many ways. It is a novelized version of the real events that comprised the lives of the mutineers who fled from Tahiti to escape potential capture and punishment along with a few Tahitian men and women. They find their way to a beautiful, secure hiding spot, rich in resources. If not for human nature, it could have been a peaceful permanent haven. However, this book gives evidence that human nature is devastatingly flawed. Many of the men who settle this island are wise, level-headed, and kind, and while everyone is busy settling the island, things go along quite well, for all except the women who had the misfortune of traveling to the island as mates of the least kind and judicious of the men, and even they seem to be coping fairly well because of the companionship of the other women. However, once there is potential for idleness amid plenty, things fall apart in a very rapid series of events, the tragedy of which evoked Shakespeare for me. A few of the men and all of the women and children survive two very awful days, and there is potential, again for peace to reign, but this time alcohol and mental illness lead to several more years of disintegration from which the women eventually flee with the children, to form their own fortified society at the other end of the tiny island. By the time an Americans in the Topaz happen past in 1808, shocked to be greeted by English-speaking teenagers in a canoe, just one mutineer survives in the community of women and children to provide a history of what has transpired. The society the Americans discover is a peaceful, organized, beautiful, and literate one, but it has been hard-won.
I recommend visiting Pitcairn via this book, but be sure to bring tissues.