Native Tahitian Vaite returns to the charming world of Materena Mahi, the "professional cleaner" and mother of three introduced in early 2006's Frangipani. This second installment begins when Pito Tehana, the father of Materena's children, drunkenly proposes marriage. Though he's forgotten about it by morning, Materena can't get it out of her head. In between jobs, caring for her kids and visits with her many cousins, Materena fantasizes about her wedding, even though Pito does nothing but dash Materena's hopes; in one of the book's most moving chapters, Materena scrimps to buy Pito a silk shirt for his birthday, but when he opens it, he grumpily tells her to return it and buy him a case of beer. Although the novel is driven by Materena's intense longing, it's peppered with witty encounters between Materena and her nosy family members. Among the wide cast of friends and family, there's Cousin Giselle, who gave birth in the back of a Mercedes Benz; Mama Roti, Pito's doting mother; Mama Teta, who drives a wedding car; and Rita, Materena's favorite cousin. None are particularly nuanced, but when combined with Vaite's light touch and the exotic setting, the result is redolent of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series-a delightful diversion. (Sept. 4) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Materena Mahi is a housecleaner, mother and co-habitator of 13 years with Pito, the father of her children. One night, in a drunken stupor, he proposes to her, which sets her off on the many tasks required to make a wedding, even though she knows Pito wasn't serious. This requires keeping her preparations secret, which isn't easy, considering that she is related to practically everyone in her town. Each chapter involves some part of her wedding preparations, from buying a new bed to the all-important wedding cake, and each part of her preparations involves the participation of one of her many cousins or other relatives. The customs of Tahiti play an important part in the story and its mixture of three languages and many cultures add to the pleasing texture of the story. Above all, this is a funny comedy of manners, Tahitian style, with memorable characters, a quirky plot, and a sweet ending. This novel is second in a trilogy, following Frangipani, and readers will want to watch Materena's life develop, though it is not required to enjoy this one. The novel is followed by an interview with the author, who by writing about her native Tahiti from the distance of Australia is able to view her native culture from inside and outside at the same time. There is also a readers' guide that will prove useful in classroom discussions.
This is Vaite's second novel featuring Materena Mahi, her family, and her day-to-day experiences, following the critically acclaimed Frangipani, which focused on Materena's role as a mother. Here, Vaite writes about Materena's relationship with Pito, the father of her children. A romantic, Materena immediately starts planning her wedding when Pito comes home drunk one day and proposes. But as Materena further contemplates the possibility of their marriage, Pito's flaws are magnified, and by the time he repeats his proposal in a sober and sincere frame of mind, Materena is starting to reconsider. As she goes about town, Materena visits with her mother, Pito's mother, and her many cousins. Through these meetings, Vaite's audience is introduced to Tahitian customs and learns something about the French colonial presence on the island. Breadfruit is as much about the culture of Tahiti as it is about Materena and her impending marriage. This lighthearted if sometimes bittersweet novel is recommended for all levels of readers. [A third Materena novel is due out in 2007.-Ed.]-Rebecca Stuhr, Grinnell Coll. Libs., IA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
The charming second installment of Vaite's Tahitian trilogy. When we last saw Materena Mahi, on the island of Tahiti (in Frangipani, Feb. 2006), her children were grown and starting lives of their own. Vaite turns the clock back a decade or so here, reflecting on the time when this matriarch was building her family. The title refers to the legendary tree that provides nourishment for Tahitian families when money is scarce. With the help of the breadfruit tree, Materena finds there's always enough food to satisfy her family. Money may be tight in Materena's home, but there's an abundance of love and strong opinions-even the children are sassy. The story follows Materena and Pito, her longtime partner and lover, as they ponder marriage, tackle parenting and try to cope with intrusive, yet well-meaning family members who surround them in their small island home. Materena is obsessed with love-be it weddings, love songs or love stories-and she longs to feel appreciated and admired by her man. Tired of merely being Pito's woman, Materena won't rest until Pito recognizes their union in a meaningful way. Vaite explores the meaning of marriage and the value of living free from society's expectations, once again transporting her readers to a faraway land where family comes first and where there's always time to stop and share. Materena is a patient listener, always giving the storyteller her undivided attention, and for this reason, all the best stories from the "coconut radio" (island gossip) make their way to her ears. The recanted island legends and family lore can be a bit rambling at times, but Materena embraces each gossip session with an open mind and open heart. Lyrical and breezy. A storyabout the power of friendships and the importance of savoring life's simple blessings.