Do you ever think back to pivotal moments in history and wonder how you would have behaved had you been alive then?

Do you ever wonder what actions you would have taken, how you would have reacted under the pressures of the day, and in what ways your personal values would have been expressed?

Today’s featured book, set in Hawaii in 1891 during the American overthrow of Hawaii’s monarchy, may make you do just that…



Note: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means that if you click on them and choose to buy something, it won’t cost you anything, but I’ll get an itsy bitsy commission as a thank you for sharing something cool with you.


island book reads reading Dragonfruit Hawaii Hawaiian writer writers women Malia Mattoch McManus


The book: Dragonfruit

Written by: Malia Mattoch McManus

Originally published: 2017


I’ve been fortunate to call Malia, the author, a friend for many years. While I was aware that she was a fellow writer – a reporter in Honolulu – I hadn’t had the opportunity to read much of her work up until this book was published. As soon as I dug into the pages of Dragonfruit, her first novel, I was stunned by her talent as a storyteller and immediately captivated by the tumultuous life of the protagonist, Eliza.


As the heiress to a plantation fortune, Eliza Dawson occupies a privileged place in the opulent court of Hawaii’s King Kalakaua. But her secret plan to marry the son of an opium tycoon collapses when political crisis forces him to China. Pregnant and desperate to keep her child, Eliza must wed an opportunistic rancher on the remote island of Moloka’i.

After a devastating fire, Eliza makes a daring escape to Honolulu on the eve of the American overthrow and joins the clandestine fight to restore the Hawaiian monarchy.

When a mysterious figure from Moloka’i reveals powerful secrets, only one man can help Eliza find the truth – her first love. But soon, their search for answers threatens to unravel the life she’s rebuilt in a dramatically changed Hawai’i.

Dragonfruit is both a vivid portrait of Hawai’i in a time of historic upheaval and the story of a woman shaped by love, betrayal, and the intoxicating power of the past. – via author’s website


This novel is so many things – a peek into Hawaii’s past, a tale of star-crossed lovers, a fall from grace, a portrait of the consequences of greed, and more. You’ll want to spend time with these fascinating characters long after you’ve finished the book.

If you’re in Hawaii, I also highly recommend visiting The Bishop Museum and Iolani Palace to further bring the details depicted in the book to life.


Readers who will love this book:


Readers of historical fiction. This book is incredibly well-researched and gives insight into Hawaii’s history that you may not have been aware of. While historical novels can sometimes move slowly, this one is just the opposite – it’s a page turner that will keep you enthralled through to the end.

Island souls who love Hawaii. If you’ve been to Hawaii recently, have lived on Hawaii, or have an upcoming trip to the island planned, this book will transport you from the familiar sites of the island today –  Iolani Palace, the Honolulu harbor, Diamond Head, Molokai, and more – into their 100+ year old versions. Respect is paid to the Native Hawaiian people and their culture, particularly the Hawaiian royal family.


Dragonfruit book quotes reading island islanders Hawaii Hawaiian writer Malia Mattoch McManus


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What are you currently reading, islanders?

If you’ve read the featured book too, be sure to leave a comment below or on our Facebook page – we can chat about it and it’ll be like our own island-style book club!


Looking for more Island Reads? Here are a couple of others I’ve covered for you to check out:

An Embarrassment of Mangoes

Don’t Stop the Carnival

Here Comes the Sun


If you’re a fellow island reader and would like to connect on all things books, you can find me on Goodreads. I even have a shelf of island related books, which I plan to cover in future posts like this one.

Written By:

Current Rock of Residence:

Virgin Gorda, BVI

Island Girl Since:


Originally Hails From:


Chrissann’s home rock in the British Virgin Islands feels bigger to her than it actually is. Though after spending five years on a teensy one acre island, the current 13-mile long rock she’s residing on now IS ginormous, at least by comparison. As with everything in the tropics, it’s all about perspective.

Once upon a time she used to care about things like matching her purse to her pumps but these days, any activities that require a bra and shoes go under careful, is-this-even-worth-it consideration. If island life has taught her anything at all, it’s that few things are more rewarding than time spent in the pool with a cocktail in hand.

As the Editor in Chief of this site, she spends her days working from home with her blue-eyed sidekick, Island Dog Diego, writing, editing, and cultivating content in the hopes of bringing some laughter and lightness to her fellow island souls. She recently published her first children’s book, When You’re a Baby Who Lives on a Rock, and is pretty pumped to share it with all of the island mamas out there. Her days off are typically spent boating, hiking, and meeting up with the neighborhood’s imperious roadside goats, who she shamelessly bribes into friendship. While normalcy was never listed as one of her special skills, Caribbean life may indeed be responsible for new levels of madness. She attributes at least a smidge of her insanity to the amount of time she spends talking to drunk people.

If you’re somehow still reading this and feel inclined to find out more about this “Chrissann” of which we speak, you can also take a gander at her eponymous website or follow her daily escapades on Instagram @womanonarock.

Want to read more posts by this writer? Click here.

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