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Return to Paradise by James A. Michener
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Return to Paradise (1951)

by James A. Michener

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Tales of the South Pacific (2)

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» See also 9 mentions

French (1)  English (1)  All languages (2)
Someone requested that my university library purchase access to this e-audiobook, as well as another by Michener (Texas, which I read in the past and which is even longer than this 21-plus-hour book). Reviews of the narrator were mixed, and having a number of three-hour drives planned within a short period, I decided to listen to this one.

It can be considered a sequel to Michener's Pulitzer Prize-winning Tales of the South Pacific (which I have not read). The book alternates nonfiction essays on various South Pacific islands or countries with short stories set on that particular island (with the exception of nonfiction chapters at the beginning on "The Mighty Ocean" (introduction) and at the end on "Rabaul" (not sure why this merited a separate chapter from the rest of New Guinea, but no separate story) and "What I Learned" (conclusion). Places covered include "The Atoll" (perhaps generic for many small islands in the area), Polynesia, Fiji, Guadalcanal, Espiritu Santo, New Zealand, Australia, and New Guinea.

It's important to read both "The Mighty Ocean" and "What I Learned" to put the book in context. The nonfiction is a good (but rather detailed) travelogue when it comes to physical descriptions and history, but is very dated, particularly when discussing culture and social customs (the book was published in 1951).

The fictional short stories are full of two-dimensional late-1940s stereotypes, particularly when it comes to the natives of the islands. Despite the stereotypes, my favorite stories were "Mr. Morgan" (set on the atoll), "Povenaa's Daughter" (set in Polynesia), and "Until They Sail" (set in New Zealand). The first two had humorous parts, and the latter, while more serious, was better-developed than any other story in the book (although a character's abrupt change of mind at the end is not explained). The first and last were made into movies.

I really disliked the last two stories, "The Jungle" (set in Australia,), and "The Fossickers" (set in New Guinea). "The Jungle" in particular was an ugly story with an unsatisfying end.

As for the narrator, actor Larry McKeever, I found him to be - okay. I think he read the book a little too slowly, and at times that (along with the content) made me sleepy. I'm glad I did not recommend that we purchase his nearly-65-hour narration of Texas.

© Amanda Pape - 2018

[The e-audiobook, and a print copy for reference, were both borrowed from and returned to my university library.] ( )
1 vote riofriotex | Feb 11, 2018 |
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» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
James A. Michenerprimary authorall editionscalculated
Berry, SteveIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stahl, BenCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
To
The Men and Women
of the Islands:
Fred Archer of Rabaul
Tom Harris of Santo
Yorky Booth of New Guinea
Lew Hirshon of Tahiti
Brett Hilder of all over
Eddie Lund of Quinn's Bar
and, above all,

Tiger Lil of the Gold Fields
First words
In 1948 I addressed some students at Washington and Lee University, and in the question-answer period one young man observed with asperity, "But it's easy for you to write. You've traveled."
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0449206505, Mass Market Paperback)

The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of TALES OF THE SOUTH PACIFIC returns to the scenes of those tales, which won him world recognition. Once again he evokes the magic of the blessed isles in the Pacific with stories and accounts glowing with color and alive with adventure.
"This is a book that should be read by everyone...and all who have seen the South Pacific will find on every page the odors of frangipani, copra, blood, and beer."
THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:58 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of TALES OF THE SOUTH PACIFIC returns to the scenes of those tales, which won him world recognition. Once again he evokes the magic of the blessed isles in the Pacific with stories and accounts glowing with color and alive with adventure. This is a book that should be read by everyone...and all who have seen the South Pacific will find on every page the odors of frangipani, copra, blood, and beer.… (more)

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