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Frangipaniby Celestine Hitiura Vaite
Synopses & Reviews
An international literary sensation. First published in Australia, Frangipani has already been licensed in Canada, Holland, Italy, Spain, the UK, and the US. The debut of an entrancing new storyteller, Vaite seasons her tale with charming bits of Tahitian tradition and folk wisdom.
A heroine you'll wish was your best friend. Her name is Materena Mahi, and she's the best listener in Tahiti.
In Tahiti it's a well-known fact that women are wisest and mothers know best. But it's Materena Mahi who really knows best of all. Everyone — everyone except Materena's daughter, that is — seems to think so.
Materena starts her new job as a professional cleaner at the same time she becomes the mother of her beautiful baby girl. Leilani is a challenge almost from the start, posing questions ("Why doesn't it snow in Tahiti?") that seem to Materena not worth wondering about. Soon enough, mother and daughter are engaged in a tug-of-war that tests the bonds of their mutual love. Materena is determined her girl will grow to be a smart, considerate, take-no-nonsense young woman. But when Leilani meets Hotu, a handsome boy and a heartbreaker for sure, Materena must figure out what's best for her daughter — and for herself.
"In this whimsical, charming novel (her first to be published in the U.S.), Vaite introduces readers to proud 'professional cleaner' Materena Mahi, one of the spunkiest, wisest, lovingest women on the island of Tahiti. With her combustible husband missing after a minor domestic squabble, Materena learns she's pregnant with a daughter. What will she do? Move on — until Pito moves back, of course. 'Girls hurt their mother from the day they come into this world.... Girls are a curse,' say some island women, but Matarena is delighted with her baby, Leilani, who soon grows into a free-spirited, curious, and sometimes troublesome girl. Materena instructs Leilani in all the folk knowledge of Tahiti — e.g., 'To get rid of unwanted guests without hurting their feelings, broom around their feet' — but she can't answer all Leilani's impossible questions ('Who started the French Revolution? What's the medical term for the neck?'). Materena decides to send her to a good Catholic school, but if Leilani makes her a grandmother before she's 40, she's going to scratch out her eyes. Of course Leilani falls in love too young, which is just one of the family troubles Materena weathers with patience — and passion. This story of love, gossip and growing up (even at 40) has all the irresistible freshness of a warm breeze." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Vaite uses words to paint a vivid Tahitian landscape worthy of a Gauguin painting and delivers a memorable story about big dreams on a small island." Kirkus Reviews
"Conveying a deep respect for women's strength and peppered with catchy aphorisms, this funny and moving mother-daughter story should have wide appeal." Booklist
"An intriguing slice of Tahitian life." Library Journal
In Tahiti, it's a well-known fact that women are wisest, mothers know best, and Materena Mahi knows best of all — or so everyone except for her own daughter thinks. Soon enough, mother and daughter are engaged in a tug-of-war that tests the bonds of their love.
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