Pitcairn's Islandby Charles Nordhoff, James Norman Hall
The third from The Bounty Trilogy, Pitcairn's Island chronicles the fate of Christian, the mutineers, and a handful of Tahitians, who together take refuge on the loneliest island in the Pacific.
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The third book in the series and a wonderful capstone. This is a fascinating account of the lives of the mutineers and their Tahitian wives and companions on the isolated island home, Pitcairns Island.
Before reviewing this book, let me note that it contains explicit scenes of violence that would cause this book to exceed an R rating if it were a motion picture. These scenes are very effective in enhancing the emotional power of the story, but certainly exceed what had to be portrayed. Pitcairn¿s Island is by far the best of the three novels in The Bounty Trilogy. While the first two books seem like somewhat disconnected pieces of the whole story of the events leading up to and following the mutiny on H.M.S. Bounty, Pitcairn¿s Island stands alone as a worthy story. In its rich development of what happened to nine of the mutineers and those Polynesians who joined them, this book ranks as one of the great adventure and morality tales of all time. The story picks up with the H.M.S. Bounty under sail in poorly charted seas, commanded by Fletcher Christian and looking for Pitcairn¿s Island. On the ship are 27 adults (9 British mutineers, 12 Polynesian women, and 6 Polynesian men). Everyone is a little edgy because Pitcairn¿s Island is not where the charts show it to be. After much stress, Pitcairn¿s Island is finally sighted. Then, it becomes apparent that the Bounty cannot be kept safely there in the long run because of the poor mooring conditions. If they commit to Pitcairn¿s Island, there will be no leaving it. Should they stay or go? The novel follows up on what happens in the 19 years following that fateful decision. The key themes revolve around the minimum requirements of a just society, differences between the two cultures of British and Polynesians, the varying perceptions and expectations of men and women, and the impact of immorality on the health of a society. Anyone who has enjoyed Robinson Crusoe, Swiss Family Robinson, or The Lord of the Flies will find this novel vastly appealing. Here, part of the fascination is that real-life events are being described. The decision to turn this into a novel is a good one. The accounts of what occurred vary, and cannot be totally reconciled. So no one can really know what happened, other than it was dramatic. Towards the end of the book, the narration becomes that of one character, and the use of that character¿s language, perspective, background is powerful in making the novel seem more realistic and compelling. This is a story where the less you know when you begin, the more you will enjoy the story. Out of respect for your potential reading pleasure, I will delve no more into the book. After you finish reading the book, I suggest that you take each of the characters and imagine how you could have improved matters for all by speaking and behaving differently then that character did. Then, think about your own family, and apply the same thought process. See what you would like to change about your own speech and behavior in your family, as a result. Think through the consequences of your potential actions very carefully when many others will be affected! Donald Mitchell, co-author of The Irresistible Growth Enterprise and The 2,000 Percent Solution