Tuesday, January 6, 2009

4 - Frangipani; Celestine Vaite

Frangipani, was recommended by a few of my book group friends, and it has sat on my shelf for a few years. I am very happy that I finally decided to read it.

Set on the beautiful island of Tahiti, it is a lovely story which begins with Materena Mahi’s husband, Pito, leaving her and their infant son, over an argument. (Materena picked up Pito’s paycheck to ensure she had enough money for food and other essentials, since Pinto had a habit of spending the money on his buddies.) In Materena's own words:

"When a woman doesn't collect her man's pay she gets zero francs because her man goes to the bar with his colleagues to celebrate the end of the week and you know how it is, eh? A drink for Les copains. Then he comes home with empty pockets.......Well, Materena is fiu of all this!"

Pito does not know she’s pregnant before he leaves. Materena keeps herself busy moving furniture, fixing the house the way she wants it, and she even gets a job as a professional cleaner so she doesn’t need to worry about money. When her daughter, Leilani, is born the story becomes more about
the bonds between mother and daughter.

Leilani is an exceptionally bright little girl with a curious mind which constantly challenges Materena’s knowledge and taxes her patience. It is difficult for Materena to impart traditional ways to a young woman who clearly has her own agenda. Materena has a lifetime of Tahitian wisdom to pass on if only Leilani could see its importance.
Materena eventually realizes that her daughter is grown and that she has become her own person; a person a mother can be proud of.

The story has French sayings sprinkled throughout, and a lot of interesting cultural beliefs as well.
  • "To get rid of unwanted guests without hurting their feelings, broom around their feet."
  • "Never visit a woman who's just given birth looking your best."
Although the book dragged a bit in parts, I still really enjoyed the story and especially learning about the culture of the island. There are (2) other books in this series which I hope to read this year as well: Breadfruit and Tiare in Bloom.

RATING - 4/5 - COMPLETED - 1/6/09
Where From - My Stacks

1 comment:

  1. This sounds interesting and I'll be adding it to my TBR list. Great review :)

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