Historical fiction is probably my favorite genre of literature, so I was really excited about the opportunity to review Fiji: A Novel, by Lance and James Morcan (a father/son writing team). Set in the mid-1800s, we find that Fiji is a wild place, filled with native tribes that are constantly at war and practice cannibalism, European and American traders and adventurers, missionaries, and more. Against this backdrop, Susannah Drake arrives with her missionary father from England to try to spread the word of God among the natives. In Fiji, she finds that dangers abound as she is caught in the crossfire between warring tribes. Meanwhile, American trader Nathan Johnson arrives to trade muskets with the Fijians, who have found them to be effective weapons. He, too, finds himself drawn into the natives’ conflicts, as well as into the strong attraction he feels for Susannah.
This book reads like an epic movie as Susannah and Nathan fight their burgeoning romance amid the horrors taking place around them. I admit that I had to read quickly through some passages that were extremely graphic in their description of the cruelties the natives inflicted on those around them. But they were essential in painting a very vivid picture of Fijian life during this time period. They also brought to mind many moral and cultural questions about the appropriateness of attempting to convert the natives to Christianity or providing them with gunfire. Was it truly beneficial to attempt to bring the Fijians into the “modern” world of that time?
Fiji: A Novel is an adventure that won’t quickly leave your thoughts. I finished this book a week ago, and the memory of Susannah and Nathan’s experiences in Fiji is still fresh in my mind. If you’re a fan of adventure, history, even romance, you’ll want to pick up a copy of Fiji: A Novel and brace yourself for the ride. It’s an intense story that will have you turning the pages long into the night.