So I have abandoned Fiji for now. The free book I downloaded when I realized my critical geographical mistake with the New Guinea book was just not working for me. I will give you the Goodreads summary first. If you like romance novels and don’t worry much about the sophistication of the prose in what you read, maybe this summary will send you off to get this book. And don’t read my review. Because it’s kinda critical. Ok, maybe more than kinda.
Goodreads says: “Fiji is a spellbinding novel of adventure, cultural misunderstandings, religious conflict and sexual tension set in one of the most exotic and isolated places on earth.
As the pharaohs of ancient Egypt build their mighty pyramids, and Chinese civilization evolves under the Shang Dynasty, adventurous seafarers from South East Asia begin to settle the far-flung islands of the South Pacific. The exotic archipelago of Fiji is one of the last island groups to be discovered and will remain hidden from the outside world for many centuries to come.
By the mid-1800’s, Fiji has become a melting pot of cannibals, warring native tribes, sailors, traders, prostitutes, escaped convicts and all manner of foreign undesirables. It’s in this hostile environment an innocent young Englishwoman and a worldly American adventurer find themselves.
Susannah Drake, a missionary, questions her calling to spread God’s Word as she’s torn between her spiritual and sexual selves. As her forbidden desires intensify, she turns to the scriptures and prayer to quash the sinful thoughts – without success.
Nathan Johnson arrives to trade muskets to the Fijians and immediately finds himself at odds with Susannah. She despises him for introducing the white man’s weapons to the very people she is trying to convert and he pities her for her naivety. Despite their differences, there’s an undeniable chemistry between them.
When their lives are suddenly endangered by marauding cannibals, Susannah and Nathan are forced to rely on each other for their very survival.
Written by father-and-son writing team Lance & James Morcan (authors of The Ninth Orphan), Fiji is an historical adventure-romance published by Sterling Gate Books.
A feature film adaptation of Fiji is currently being developed.”
Warning, this will probably read as harsh and snooty:
To be fair, I rarely read things that get the label “romance.” VERY rarely. Sometimes if they cross with mystery, I can take it (Iris Johansen in limited doses, the Eve Dallas books, and, yeah, I read the Twilight books). But I’m not a romance person. I’m rarely even a chick lit person. To be fair, I have also been reading REALLY good books lately. But given that I have not yet read every REALLY good book, it is very hard to justify spending time on this one. So much so that I bailed about 10% of the way in. And I also almost never bail on books. I feel it is not fair to judge them unless you know where they are going. I wanted to use this book for one of my Oceania reads in my 6 books, 6 countries, 6 regions challenge, and Oceania books are hard to find at all. But I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t.
After reading passages like”Better the peak of art than the slough of sex. Contrary to the popular notion of his wantonness, the artist, Mother believes, must forget about sex. If he can’t, then he’s a mere mortal; but he shouldn’t be a mere mortal. He should be divine! Unfortunately, biographies of artists, which are the most important things about artists, teem all too often with the sexual ruses and abuses of their protagonists. They inveigle the reader into thinking that the cucumber bed of pure harmony grows upon the compost heap of sex.” which is just a randomly selected passage from The Piano Teacher,
to then read “As Susannah continued reading, the forbidden thoughts returned. This time they were even more intense and exciting. Her pulse raced and her breathing became labored as she imagined strong hands caressing her body,” just doesn’t work for me. There have to be better ways to spend my time. Actually, I was already getting skeptical when the authors referred to a Bible “translated from the Hebrew in 1583.” Ok, only the first half was ever in Hebrew in the first place. I know I’m being picky, but I was afraid these details would pile up. If you can overlook that the New Testament was in Greek, what else will you gloss over?
And if cultural insight is depicted like this “Looking into the eyes of the old Fijian, Nathan reminded himself he was looking at the end result of thousands of earlier generations. He wondered what claims to fame the old man’s forebears had.,” I’m, again, not feeling really hopeful. I kept feeling like I was reading something written by a good but not truly talented high school student. Again, maybe if you are looking for a steamy island read about a not-so-repressed daughter of a missionary, then maybe this will work for you. I’m looking for something more than that. So I will have to find my next Oceania read somewhere else.