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Breadfruit (2006)

Breadfruit (2006)

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3.76 of 5 Votes: 2
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0316016586 (ISBN13: 9780316016582)
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About book Breadfruit (2006)

So my longstanding personal interest in Tahiti has become supplemented by a professional interest (which somewhat diminishes my personal interest, but probably not why you'd think), and plus I've never seen a Tahitian novel before. Materena loves Pito, they've been partners for years and have two wonderful children together, but Materena is dying to make it official, and get married, already. Or is she? Follow her along the island as she visits relatives and decides. The book would be about half its length if it stuck to the plot, which I really think is mostly a framework for various anecdotes (remembered, invented, and otherwise) about what it means to be Tahitian."A long time ago," Loana begins, "long before the airplanes were invented and long before the television was invented, there was a princess called Hina."When Hina turned sixteen years old, her father told her that she was to marry the prince of Lake Vahiria. Hina looked forward to meeting the prince, but when they were finally introduced, she saw that, as well as being ugly, the prince of Lake Vahiria was an eel. She was horrified and swore to herself that she was never going to marry that repulsive eel."But the eel lost his heart to the beautiful princess within a second. He would not take no for an answer, so Princess Hina decided to have him killed. She appealed to God Maui for help. God Maui captured the eel, cut him into three slices, and wrapped the head of the eel in tapa cloth. He gave it to Princess Hina with strict instructions to immediately bury it in the familial marae."But Princess Hina forgot all about Maui's instructions and went for a swim in the river on her way home. Not long after, the earth began to tremble and a tree sprouted -- a strange-looking tree resembling an eel. On her way home, a voice cried out, 'One day, Princess Hina, you're going to look into my eyes, you're going to kiss my mouth. You're going to love me.'"Princess Hina, she just laughed."Years passed and a terrible drought hit the islands of Tahiti. People everywhere were dying from thirst. Hina went back to that strange-looking tree. One of her servants picked up one of its round fruits and peeled it. Princess Hina saw the three dots and remembered the eel's words. The servant pierced a hole in the dot, and Princess Hina pressed her lips on the eel's mouth and drank the sweet water. There and then she realized how much the eel had loved her, and loved her still."Moana wants to hold the coconut, and Loana puts it in his hand."This is the legend of the coconut," she says. "Tell it to your kids."One of the quotes on the back compares the title character to Mma Ramotswe from the #1 Ladies' Detective Agency, which did increase my curiousity. I can kind of see the comparison between the books, more because of the worldview depicted and the way it's expressed than because of any strong similarities between the two characters. I think McCall Smith has more of a serious goal, whereas Vaite wrote out of homesickness, and love.

In Breadfruit, a sequel to Frangipani, we find Materena Mahi planning for a fabulous wedding, after receiving a wedding proposal from a drunken Pito--who may have forgotten his original proposal the morning after. Although the couple, and their three children have been together for fourteen years, this is the first time she is planning a wedding. As she visits with various friends and family members, we get a feel for what rural life in Tahiti is like, while she is busy gathering helpful advice from her friends and family about planning for her wedding.The story is full of quirky characters, told in short chapters about the exploits of Materena and her family and friends. It is filled with lots of funny tales that will have you chuckling out loud.

Do You like book Breadfruit (2006)?

Although Matarena Mahi has lived with Pito for 14 years and they have three children, they have never married. So when a drunken Pito proposes one night, even though she knows better than to rely on anything he says, Matarena starts fantasizing about her wedding. The book is really a collection of stories of Matarena’s relatives and friends. Everything and everyone is connected and so one story leads to the next. Set on an out of the way Tahitian island, not very much happens and the pace is very leisurely. I read the second book of this trilogy, “Frangipani,” first and liked it quite a bit. This one is not so good and I kept reflecting that Matarena, who is a very appealing character, deserves better.

A collection of vignettes about a woman, her family and the lives of her relatives in Tahiti. The stories are reasonably charming and the writing is ok. It's lighthearted and good for a couple laughs. The tidbits about life, people and culture in Tahiti are interesting.A narrative device is used to (sometimes awkwardly) connect the different stories- I'm not a fan of books doing that since it's often clumsy ("Oh look there is X and did you hear the story about when they did Y...[cue story]"). If you're not ra-ra about marriage then the core theme of the book (Matarena's quest got get married to her long time partner) will be a little meh.
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Breadfruit is the first novel by Tahitian author, Celestine Hitiura Vaite and the first book in the Materena Mahi series. Having lived with her man, for twelve years, certain things, including a drunken proposal from Pito himself, are making her think about a wedding. And she is starting to like the idea. But although Materena begins making tentative plans, no further mention is made, and she eventually gives up on the idea. Or does she? As Materena makes various wedding-related enquiries, she also learns a lot about her family’s history. As she navigates Materena’s life towards the longed-for union, Vaite weaves together a collection of seemingly unrelated anecdotes about life and love, Tahiti-style, as well as Tahitian legends and gossip about friends and family (the many aunties and cousins one has in Tahiti) that often ends up on the Coconut Radio. She touches on topics as diverse as brooming, totems, mother-in-law’s cake, the shape of the nose, new carpet, mattress allergy, mosquito coils, private property, gendarmes, a transvestite girlfriend, a birthday frying pan, religion, politics, words of love, family diplomacy, birth of babies and she also describes a novel form of Tahitian caller ID. A light-hearted look at life in Tahiti. 3.5 stars

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