Hawaii. Paradise. A vacation and honeymoon location. Palm trees, luscious beaches, Diamond Head, Honolulu, Maui, and the list goes on and on. But few people know the story as to how Hawaii became a US possession and eventually our 50th state. In her amazing Historical Fiction novel, “The Last Aloha”, Gaellen Quinn paints a wonderful picture while at the same time educating one and all as to the Bayonet Constitution, the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii, as well as all the American missionaries and businessmen who plotted the downfall of Queen Lili’uokalani and the Hawaiian Monarchy.
Laura Jennings is a young girl who is engaged and is getting fitted for her wedding dress in San Francisco in 1886 when a horrible tragedy occurs and she is soon sent to Honolulu to live with her missionary relatives. It is through the eyes of this newcomer to Hawaii that the story unfolds. Quinn is able to tell the backstory of the missionaries and businessmen who have too much at stake to allow Hawaii to remain an independent Kingdom. Laura eventually gets a position at the palace and can witness the overt actions of both groups and how they went about using military force to eventually diminish the power of the Monarchy and eventually the final indignity of the collapse of the Queen and the Kingdom.
This is the story of Hawaii that James Michener never wrote about in his book “Hawaii”, and it is one that most Americans were unaware of. It was an expansion of US domination during a time when our country began its Imperial expansion beyond the continental US, and we even see the United States President reluctantly agree to the demands of the missionaries/business interests on the islands.
A lovely, easy to read book that tells a story of the time and events that shaped the fate of Hawaii, and one that explores the real reasons why Hawaii became a American possession. As a novel, and as a history lesson, “The Last Aloha” is a book that I strongly recommend and helps us take a deeper look at the state and the history of that beautiful island.