Pitcairn’s Island’s Heartbreaking First Decade

Around the World in Books Well, I just finished Pitcairn’s Island by Nordhoff and Hall. Here is my review from Goodreads:

Pitcairn's IslandPitcairn’s Island by Charles Bernard Nordhoff

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.

View all my reviews

I recommend visiting Pitcairn via this book, but be sure to bring tissues.


About Beth Parks Aronson

I am Associate Professor of Psychology at Lamar University. Previously, I was a psychologist in private practice in Jenkintown, PA where I specialized in anxiety disorders and working with people living with chronic and life-threatening illnesses. I am a little addicted to good literature. Ok, a lot addicted.
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5 Responses to Pitcairn’s Island’s Heartbreaking First Decade

  1. Janice says:

    I also have this book on my list. I’ve been thinking about swapping it out for another book about the island, Lost Paradise.

  2. Jenny says:

    I want to read more about this island but don’t have it on my list (and I already have 60 countries or so, whoops). I first read about it in the Atlas of Remote Islands, and am oh so curious! Great review!

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