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Return to Paradise

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  748 Ratings  ·  43 Reviews
James A. Michener, the master of historical fiction, revisits the scenes of his first great work, Tales of the South Pacific, the Pulitzer Prize winner that brought him international acclaim. In this sequel collection, Michener once again evokes the magic of the extraordinary isles in the Pacific—from Fiji and Gaudalcanal to New Zealand and Papua New Guinea—through stories ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 416 pages
Published September 12th 1984 by Fawcett (first published 1947)
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Christopher Sutch
Jun 28, 2015 rated it liked it
This collection of essays and stories, originating out of a trip Michener and his wife took to various South Pacific locations during 1950, is the first book he wrote that is (partially) readable. It is mostly the essays, however, that are worth reading; the fiction is pretty terrible. Of the stories Michener composed for this collection, only the one set in New Zealand ("Until They Sail") is competently composed; the rest are quite amateurish in regards to characterization, pacing, and plot sha ...more
Paul Cornelius
A sequel of sorts to Tales of the South Pacifc, Return to Paradise takes a different formal track than that of the earlier volume. Here, in a collection of independent short stories, Michener precedes each tale with an essay that ranges in subject matter from geo-political argument to virtual travel brochure. The result is an overall effort that does not equal that of Tales of the South Pacific but whose individual stories sometimes rise above anything he has written before.

Most of the essays ar
...more
Carol Arnold
This book format is different than any I have read before. Mr. Michener would wrote a chapter about the different islands in the South Pacific giving the details that he knew about the island. Then he would follow it with a fiction story based on that island. I found it a little hard in the audio format to keep track of what was being read. The person reading the audiobook did not indicate when chapters changed, so it was hard to know if what I was listening to was his factual chapter or the fic ...more
Nancy
Feb 22, 2018 rated it liked it
Here's the thing: cultural morays, values and perceptions were very different 50 years ago when this book was written. I had to get over my righteous indignation when it came to these different attitudes. After all, when we know better, we do better.
Aside from that (which will disturb people) the stories themselves, including the characters are intriguing and fun. The exotic settings and background history are also satisfying.
Delena constant
Nov 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Paradise , Holding In Your Hands

James A.Michener, thank You for taking me away to a place I will never see in person! I so enjoyed this look at the Islands through your Eyes and Writing. I feel Enchanted. A Five was a given!
Zoe
Interesting and well-written stories, as long as you don’t mind rampant racism, colonialism, and misogyny. Had me cringing every other sentence.
Kevin
Feb 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
enchanting
Paula
Mar 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
On oldie, but a goodie- its age makes it even better. its a collection of first hand imperialist back-packer-in-the-So.-pacific travelogue, back in the days after WWII, followed by charming short stories. Its history, its culture (of the islands and the times!) AND fun stories. I loved this great throwback. Besides, its Michener- nuff said.
Mark Oppenlander
James Michener once again takes us to the South Pacific. This unusual collection comprises short essays about various Pacific islands with each one then followed by a fictional story set in the same locale.

Michener's essays are OK, if a bit rambling. They offer some decent anthropological insights into the politics and sociology of these melting pots of humanity, especially as they were in the mid 20th-century. Michener assesses the natural beauty of these far-flung places as well as the perils
...more
Walter
Sep 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
After the phenomenal success of his first novel "Tales of the South Pacific", James Mitchener returns to the Pacific islands to write his next great Geographical novel, "Return to Paradise". Written after spending a year with his wife in the various islands of the South Pacific in the late 1940s, Michener writes this fascinating novel as a prototype to the kind of geographical novels that Michener would devote most of the rest of his life writing; novels like "Chesapeake", "Texas", "Poland" and ...more
Robin
Imagine reading a James Michener book with only two titles on the “also by this author” attribution page! Written in the late 1940s, these short stories are tales and recollections from Michener’s post-WWII revisit to the south Pacific islands. From his perspective, much has changed since the war on most islands. From our perspective, this is a historical snapshot of a south Pacific adjusting to cultural changes brought about by WWII. It depicts a transitional time before the south Pacific becam ...more
Adam Nelson
Mar 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this one more than Tales of the South Pacific. I don't know if I was just paying more attention this time around or what, but it seems like Michener's voice had matured a bit (although he was already a master of his voice in the first one). Perhaps his perspective had somehow matured. I don't know. Anyway, a great read. The overall attraction to Michener's tales is this idea, even if it remains idealistic rather than an actual reality, of an unspoiled paradise. I say it's idealistic be ...more
Andrew
Sep 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Michener's "Tales of the South Pacific" was his crispest, most original work. If you yearn for a follow-up to it, this is it. But "Return to Paradise," while picking up the themes of the fictional stories in "South Pacific" is a unique Michener work in that it combines essays on New Zealand, Australia, Fiji, Espiritu Santo, New Guinea and Rabaul. Nonetheless, it will be housed in the "fiction" section of your library.

Portions of the book are prescient about future political troubles, particularl
...more
David Miller
Nov 22, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Michener's architecture for this book is unusual: alternating essays and short stories. As always he is no slave to structure: the last essay is followed not by a short story, but by his closing thoughts on the South Pacific. In this his third book, you can see the emergence of the writer to come; the first essay will be expanded into the first chapters of "Hawaii".

Some of the issues he raises have played out over the years (the book came out 60 years ago), but I confess I am ignorant of the det
...more
Adam Fleming
Aug 18, 2014 rated it liked it
If you're going to dig into Michener, this isn't the place to start. I found a first print run copy at a used bookstore and had to have it for my collection. But Michener was still developing in 1951, and even though South Pacific was a big hit on Broadway by the time he wrote this, his conclusions were pretty colored by a fairly recent and deeply personal war. As a writer, since I've read so much of his later work, I found it interesting to see "the missing link" in his development; his approac ...more
Lynne Pennington
May 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
In a way, different from Tales From the South Pacific----yet similar also as regards the non-fiction chapters. You can really see where Michener started his signature writing----the in-depth history of a state or area mixed in with fiction. This book does it in a very formal way, alternating non-fiction and fiction (short story) chapters. I was fascinated since it is certainly a period piece---prices of things in the early 50's, for example. Good book---good history (which was current events whe ...more
Lietric
Nov 28, 2010 rated it it was ok
Not a fun entertaining book to read - but I learned alot about the South Pacific I never knew before so it was worth reading. This is a collection of essays James wrote about the South Pacific and I enjoyed the fictional stories more then the detailed accounts. It made me curious to know what the current situation of these islands were as of todate vs. post world war II to see if what he predicted came true. Intresting perspective on how the war was for the islanders.
Shane
Aug 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best books by Michener on his beloved South Seas. This book is not just a series of short stories. It also includes a wealth of information and history about the islands in Ploynesia, Melanesia, and Meganesia (Australia), from a geopolitical point of view. It's definitely worth a read for anyone who is interested in that part of the world.
Paul Berg
Jan 22, 2011 rated it liked it
I felt kind of guilty enjoying this book, because it is sooo politically incorrect by today's standards. Keeping in mind when it was written, though, helps. It took me about 1/3 of the way in to get into the rhythm of the book - travel-log, story, travel-log, story, etc. If you like Michener (and I do!), then you'll probably like this book.
Thomas Walton
Never heard of it, but found it in my Michener collection. Well... not one of his better books, but it was a totally different format for his writing, so I found that part of it interesting. It was a collection of essays, of which he put stories to each essay. As always, I learned alot from this book. A lot of it focused on colonization of the Islands by the Europeans.
Kathy
Aug 18, 2009 rated it really liked it
Another book to read before my trip to Tahiti and the Society Islands in September of 2009. I enjoyed reading the essays followed by the stories. While fiction, the stories gave another view of the "truth."
Ann
Sep 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
I have read this book a couple of times in conjunction Tales of the South Pacific. I found its insights on the area insightful and prophetic given when it was written. Have an maps and Wikipedia to really get the most out of it.
Vart
Aug 10, 2011 added it
Shelves: fiction
Once again, Michener captures our soul with this beautiful work of his. A work which is an amalgam of history,( colonial issues have a significant importance), geography, science, romance, and art . And as I always say , Michener is the "Atlas Man"
Nicole Diamond
May 05, 2016 rated it it was ok
If it has one star I liked it a lot
If it has two stars I liked it a lot and would recommend it
If it has three stars I really really liked it a lot
If it has four stars I insist you read it
If it has five stars it was life changing
Sheryl
Feb 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Michener is my all time favorite author and this book doesn't disappoint. A historical travelogue through the islands of the South Pacific. A goldmine of information.
Vikas Datta
Sep 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Mr Michener is superb as always.. brings the deceptively languid isles of the Pacific to life with full colour and clarity...
Eileen
Sep 02, 2010 rated it liked it
Mitchner is always an informative read.
Patrice
Nov 01, 2016 rated it it was ok
It was an interesting and somewhat informative read; but it seemed very looooong.
Grant
Apr 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
My favorite book of all time. Give's your mind somewhere else to go.
Marilyn
Jan 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Short stories of the islands he revisited after Tales of South Pacific.
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James Albert Michener is best known for his sweeping multi-generation historical fiction sagas, usually focusing on and titled after a particular geographical region. His first novel, Tales of the South Pacific , which inspired the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical South Pacific, won the 1948 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Toward the end of his life, he created the Journey Prize, awarded annually for t
...more
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“I have often been mildly amused when I think that the great American novel was not written about New England or Chicago. It was written about a white whale in the South Pacific.” 5 likes
“Other things being roughly equal, that man lives most keenly who lives in closest harmony with nature. To be wholly alive a man must know storms, he must feel the ocean as his home or the air as his habitation. He must smell the things of earth, hear the sounds of living things and taste the rich abundance of the soil and sea.” 4 likes
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