In this extraordinary fiction debutrich with love and betrayal, history and intellectual passiontwo remarkable narratives converge on Easter Island, one of the most remote places in the world.
It is 1913. Elsa Pendleton travels from England to Easter Island with her husband, an anthropologist sent by the Royal Geographical Society to study the colossal moai statues, and her younger sister. What begins as familial duty for Elsa becomes a grand adventure; on Easter Island she discovers her true calling. But, out of contact with the outside world, she is unaware that World War I has been declared and that a German naval squadron, fleeing the British across the South Pacific, is heading toward the island she now considers home.
Sixty years later, Dr. Greer Farraday, an American botanist, travels to Easter Island to research the island's ancient pollen, but more important, to put back the pieces of her life after the death of her husband.
A series of brilliant revelations brings to life the parallel quests of these two intrepid young women as they delve into the centuries-old mysteries of Easter Island. Slowly unearthing the island's haunting past, they are forced to confront turbulent discoveries about themselves and the people they love, changing their lives forever.
Easter Island is a tour de force of storytelling that will establish Jennifer Vanderbes as one of the most gifted writers of her generation.
Time Out (New York)
... weaves together history, science and romance, while maintaining an undercurrent of suspense.
St. Louis Post Dispatch
Captivating ... one of those impressive debut novels that come along once a year ... and demands that readers take notice of its existence.
The Christian Science Monitor
A gorgeous debut.
Newsday - Dan Cryer
Intelligently conceived and elegantly written ... combines gripping traditional storytelling with scientist-explorer protagonists ... makes the quest for scientific breakthroughs both exciting and all too human.
Critics Choice. ... a rich and worldy first novel. Bottom line Glorious.
The San Francisco Chronicle
Exquisitely imagined ... one of those rare novels that appeals equally to mind, heart, and soul.
The Washington Post - Heather Hewett
... exemplifies the continuing appeal of the historical-fiction genre to young, talented writers. An engrossing blend of adventure, romance and mystery.
Fort Worth Star - Telegran
... a beautiful story, a journey of mystery and surprise that readers will want to take again and again.
Like the overcast skies of Easter Island, this impressive debut is rich in shades of gray meteorological, scientific, intellectual and emotional.
Impressively researched, persuasively detailed a first novel destined to become a reading club favorite.
Booklist - Marta Segal
This historical novel deftly combines romance, warfare, and science for the rationalist and romantic alike.
The Times (London)
... brilliant ... this novel is an impressive, strikingly carved feat.
The Sunday Telegraph (UK)
...an ambitious undertaking, triumphantly achieved.
Robert Stone - author of Dog Soldiers
One of the best novels of the year.
Andrea Barrett - author of Servants of the Map
Splendid ... captures in the intertwined stories of two women a passion for life and for science that transcends time.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Portland Reading Group Unanimous--Book Group liked this book Our Portland reading group read this book, and enjoyed it. We found this was a book of desolate people on a desolate island. So many facets--scientific, intellectual, romantic, lyrical, historical. Incredible narrative.
Growing up in idyllic Honolulu in the 1890s, Rachel is part of a big loving family until she is forcibly removed from her family and sent to the isolated leper colony on the island of Moloka'i. True to historical accounts, Rachel's life, though shadowed by disease, isolation and tragedy, is also one of joy, courage, and dignity.
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