Loosely inspired by the visit of
David Kalakaua the last King of Hawaii, to San
Francisco, Houston tells of Nani Keala,
the King's lover. Nani's story plays out against the
backdrop of the Californian Gold Rush and the
annexation of Hawaii by the USA. Through her life we
are introduced to a full cast of 19th century
Californian and Hawaiian historical characters
including John Sutter, founder of Sacramento, and
David Kalakaua, known as the the "Merrie Monarch";
we see what life was like on the missions and
rancherias in California, explore Hawaiian
traditions such as hula and get a fly on the wall
view of Hawaiian court intrigue.
A parallel story rests on the popular contemporary theme of discovering ones roots, and explores how ...
Background: When Houston was researching Snow Mountain Passage, about the Donner Party and the 19th century settlement of the American west, he came across references to Hawaiian sailors who helped John Sutter build his fort in the Sacramento Valley, a first destination and resting place for the trans-continental wagon trains. Houston became fascinated by the idea that, at the time these early wagon parties were making their way across the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Hawaiians were already in California (along with Chinese, Mexicans and, of course, the native tribes who'd been in the region for thousands of years). He came across oral interviews and other sources that told of a mixed-blood woman (part white, part Indian, part Hawaiian) who was the daughter ...
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