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Bird of Another Heaven Bird of Another Heaven Bird of Another Heaven

3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  91 ratings  ·  25 reviews
From the acclaimed author of "Snow Mountain Passage" comes this richly evocative novel that follows a half-Indian, half-Hawai'ian woman and her complex relationship with the last king ofHawai'i.
When talk show host Sheridan Brody finds the journals of his great grandmother Nani Keala (aka Nancy Callahan), he uncovers a mythic, unknown tale. Nani, a shy girl from a remote I
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Published March 20th 2007 by Knopf Publishing Group (first published January 1st 2007)
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A lovely historical novel about a half-Hawaiian, half-California Indian woman who becomes the paramour of David Kalakaua, the last king of Hawai'i. In alternating chapters, it also tells the story of her great-grandson, who is currently living in the Bay Area and struggling to understand himself and where he fits into the world. That format is often annoying, but in this case it (more or less) works. Both halves of the story are interesting and I like the way they finally intersect.
I like traveling to different times and places; this suits my goals with trips to the Gold Rush, turn of the century San Francisco and Hawaii. Plot is unveiled as a NPR like broadcaster discovers his family history from an unexpected caller. Precolonial Hawaii and US history seem to reflect accurately in a well woven fabric of events.
Lori Korleski
An interesting historical fiction... I loved reading about the Valley, the foothills, San Francisco and Hawaii, all intertwined, past and present. It felt a bit truncated, but it gave the reader a good bit to chew on. Its air of spirituality and mysticism was appealing and it was written well.
What a fascinating book about early California, the last king of Hawaii, and the tribes of the Sacramento valley. A pleasant read full of historic facts.
Deon Stonehouse
Bird of Another Heaven by James D. Houston book is fascinating. It moves from present day San Francisco to the past of Hawaii and the settling of Sacramento. Sheridan Brody grew up loving his step-father, never knowing anything about his biological father. He works as a San Francisco radio talk show host where one night he receives a startling call from a woman claiming to be his Grandmother. As they begin to develop a relationship she tells him about her son, a young man who was claimed by the ...more
Look! I actually finished a book.

I very intentionally dusted off this book from my to-read pile last week, because I was going to Hawaii. I knew this book dealt with the final days of King Kalakaua, so I thought my vacation would enhance the reading experience and vice versa—and I was right. The experience of being in Hawaii was ineffably heightened by reading this historical novel. Though the story of Kalakaua and his thoughtful consort is fiction, James Houston immerses us in the sights, smell
Dan Brody, a young Northern California radio host becomes focused on discovering the legacy of his great-grandmother, Nani Keala, a half Hawaiian-half California Indian who became the mistress of Hawaii's last king, David Kalakaua. Through his grandmother’s stories and Nani’s diaries, a picture of Dan's family history emerges along with the fate of Hawaiian sovereignty. The story is split between the past and present and tied together by the search for a wax cylinder with Kalakaua's last words o ...more
Nov 22, 2008 Judy rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Readers of historical fiction; interested in Hawaiian history (mid 1890's)
Recommended to Judy by: AAUW Bookgroup
Bird of Another Heaven, a historical novel, contains multiple "dual" story lines: Time and location (Hawaii, SF and Sacramento in mid 1890's and today's Bay Area); Cultures (Hawaiian and CA native Indian); and Societial (Missionary and Monarch) to name just a few. The present is narriated by "Danny" whose search for his family history leads us back through four generations of his ancestors to Keala, a native Hawaiian who comes to Sacramento with John Sutter; and Keala's daughter Nani, half Hawai ...more
Fascinating to learn about the Hawaii/CA link in the 1800's. I subsequently read Two Years Before the Mast, a first-person account of 1800's CA, which also described the Kanakas working in CA. I did not quite finish Bird of Another Heaven, got bored near the end.

My father grew up in the Sacto River Delta south of Sacramento. His great grandfather came to CA for the Gold Rush and stayed to farm. Dad just told me the other day that the Kanakas helped build the levees in the Delta. I had thought i
After attending a book reading by this author I was intrigued with the story concept - told both from the past and the present. The narrator who is a Bay Area talk show host learns of a great grandmother with Native Indian & Hawaiian roots and tells both his story as well as that of Nani, his great grandmother who was a companion to the last king of Hawaii. Since I love Hawaii but didn't know enough about its history I was hooked from that story line alone, but the author is an accomplished ...more
There is so much about this novel that captivated me. I've lived in northern California more than half my life, but I saw its history and topography in a whole new way through the eyes of the characters. The emphasis on honoring and saving cultural heritage through storytelling resonated brilliantly, with elegantly drawn connections between and among native cultures (Hawaiian and Native Americans -- fascinating!). The characters were believable and memorable, and the plot built and sustained ten ...more
Sheridan Brody, a radio talk show host is contacted on air by a woman who thinks she is his grandmother. They become acquainted and he finds unknown to him, a rich family background revealing his Hawaiian ancestry. This is an historical work of fiction which includes the real last King of Hawaii, Kalakaua. The overthrow of the king by the American business community in Hawaii is also detailed. The flipping back and forth of the early part of Sheridan's history and the present day was confusing a ...more
The early days of John Sutter's settlement on the Sacramento River, political intrigue in the last years of the Hawaiian monarchy, a missing wax cylinder recording--odd corners of history which come to life when Shendan Brody, radio talk show host, takes a call from a woman who claims to be his grandmother and who sets him on a path to recovering his own family history. If Hawaiian or Californian history interests you, try this!
I love well written historical fiction! Most specially about early California. This book fit the bill and got me on a James D. Houston 'kick'.
I didn't know, at the time of reading it, of the early connection between Hawaii and California (Kaliponi). Mr Houston makes the 'real life' characters come alive, rather than writing about them in a 'dry, historical' sense.
I was hoping this would be sort of the anti- Molokai, and it was to the extent that it showed it is in fact possible for a white guy to write a book about Hawaii without turning it into a bunch of exotifying ridiculousness. That said, annoyingly Molokai was a more gripping read.
James Houston likes librarians though.
This book combined two of my favorite things: Hawaii and historical fiction. This was a really engaging book and I tore through it quickly. I was disappointed that it ended - which is my favorite way to feel when I'm done... like there's so much more to be explored.
Feb 16, 2011 Jeri rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jeri by: Pam Hawes
Shelves: f-historical
Center character is a California woman who is half-Indian and half Hawaiian and becomes the consort of the last King of Hawaii. This story is of her great grandson's search for her truth as well as finding himself. Good read; amost gave it 4 stars.
Gary Novack
Fortunate enough to read while in Hawaii. A bit simplistic at first, and I never knew about Hawaiians at Sutter's Fort in my home town, but still very good. Better than a book I read at the same time, Honolulul
i really liked this book, more the history part of it than the current day part of it. i was sad to think back to the time of the Hawaiian monarchy and how it was lost with Hawaii becoming settled and developed.
The story line is about the history of Hawaii and the ties to California. Look on pg 111 for the description of dancing the hula "all of our stories must be told."
Virginia Hess
a story of a modern san francisco man's relation to the last of california's native americans and the last king of hawaii. a search for ancestors. beautiful prose.
A rather delightful historical fiction set in Hawaii and a little of California, intersecting with modern day San Francisco. Very soothing and mildly seductive.
This book was a nice combination of fictional story based on real facts.
interesting book. Mix of fiction and history.
Jul 12, 2009 Bevlawrie is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
interesting story
Autumn marked it as to-read
Oct 20, 2014
Sara Benson
Sara Benson marked it as to-read
Oct 14, 2014
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James Houston is the author of 8 novels and several nonfiction books. His work includes Snow Mountain Passage and Farewell to Manzanar.
More about James D. Houston...
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