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Easter Island

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  1,908 ratings  ·  318 reviews
Join two intrepid young women as they delve into the centuries-old mysteries of Easter Island. Slowly unearthing the island's haunting past, they are forced to confront turbulent discoveries about themselves and the people they love, changing their lives forever.

In this extraordinary fiction debut—rich with love and betrayal, history and intellectual passion—two remarkable
Paperback, 320 pages
Published June 1st 2004 by Dial Press Trade Paperback (first published 2003)
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Average rating 3.69  · 
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Tea Jovanović
Jun 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
One of my favourite picks for Serbian market... Good book, good story that deserves to be read for years and years... I'm sorry to see that none of my Goodreads friends has read it yet... :( But you can always change that... Published by Narodna knjiga - Alfa, 10 years ago... Let say for those who liked THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS... ...more
Apr 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
150 pages in, I'm really enjoying Easter Island. It has a patient, quiet narrative and masterful grasp of subject matter (botany, taxonomy, evolution and science in general) that is unassailable and reminiscent of Sacred Hunger. It also maintains an excellent balance and synergy between the parallel narratives of Elsa and Greer. It always seems a danger, to me, in this construct that one storyline will become dominant or just more interesting than the other. But so far, alternating, I always fin ...more
Nov 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book absolutely delighted me. I went into it with no expectations - it was a random selection from the library - and I finished it a little blown away. I have a feeling this is what The Conquest by Yxta Maya Murray wanted to be - a fictional novel that wraps science and fact into its tale - but where The Conquest stumbled, Easter Island soars. The characters are flawed and not entirely likable, the plot comfortable and not especially surprising, and the ending is not tied up in a little bow ...more
Aug 25, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Ellen, Barbara (maybe)
This is my kind of book! I love it when two or more stories come together like this. Easter Island is the story of two women who went to the island and did research. But the two women's stories are 60 years apart. There is also a small thread of a German World War I naval squadron present in the book.

Elsa Beazley arrives at Easter Island in 1916 with her new husband and her mentally handicapped sister. Her story was inspired by the true story of Katherine Scoresby Routledge and her husband. Elsa
Jul 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Every so often it’s good to wander off into a novel and completely check out from reality. Actually, it’s good all the time, but it isn’t easy to find a book that good, that immersive, that well written. Well, this is one of those books. Found randomly and selected due to my fascination with the most remote island on earth, the navel of the world, Easter Island. Tough place to visit, even with all the modern travel conveniences, even less so back in the day, one of the narratives is set in the e ...more
The name Easter Island evokes a sense of mystery and romanticism. The book Easter Island delivers on both accounts.

Begin with an oceanic island fifteen hundred miles from any other landmass, one that had taken thousands of years for plant life to reach its shores and much longer before human life managed to land there. Add in two women, separated by sixty years as their parallel stories are told, each brought to Easter Island - one an Englishwoman who accompanies her anthropologist husband and
Nov 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A beautifully written and genuinely fascinating novel that loosely interweaves two stories, set in different time periods, of women scientists coming to Easter Island, one of the most remote spots on the planet, and there managing to overcome the sexist prejudices of their day and establish themselves as independent individuals. While following their stories, we pick up along the way lots of juicy bits of information about sciences like botany, paleobotany, linguistics (did you know that Easter ...more
Ron Charles
Nov 27, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's comforting to imagine that aliens placed those inscrutable statues on Easter Island. Such a theory protects us from the more haunting implications about human nature. The tiny island, 2,300 miles west of Chile, was settled around 400 A.D. Its early inhabitants - with or without extraterrestrial assistance - carved more than 600 giant faces from volcanic rock and then dragged them to the shore. Some weigh almost 90 tons.

In her gorgeous debut novel, "Easter Island," Jennifer Vanderbes has att
Jan 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed reading this historical fiction. It is becomming my favorite genera, and with stories like this one it makes it totally worth my time.

This story was written with three different sub stories involved. All of them converging on Easter Island on two different time lines. One story is about Elsa Beasley, her husband Edward and her sister Alice. Alice is what we call today a special needs individual. I could not exactly say what was wrong with her, but she was a high matenance charge. The
Jun 10, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Oh my what can I say about this book, except I seriously don't recommend it. Although it presents very interesting history and facts of Easter Island I would have been better off reading Wikipeadia. If you want to read about every scientific plant species grown on the island since it's volanic conception, go ahead and be my guest.

I kept waiting for the three separate stories to blend and make a wonderful marriage somewhere along the way, but geez by the last couple chapters I kept looking back
Jul 26, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Easter Island is one of those mysterious places that I've always found fascinating, likely because of the sheer distance away that it is. A novel like this merely whets my appetite. The author moves between the two stories, each of a woman who travels to Easter Island after a huge change in life -- Elsa Beazley after her marriage of convenience in the beginning of the 20th century and Greer Farraday decades later in the 70s, after the death of her husband. As each finds her place and true callin ...more
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Tiana Harris
Apr 22, 2013 rated it did not like it
This book read too much like a textbook, so I skimmed through quite a bit of it. The only thing that kept me reading was to find out the answers to the few mysteries in the book, and then was quite disappointed at the vague answers that were revealed. I don't like it when authors leave endings up to the readers to figure out. Give me a definite ending, let the characters in the book actually find the answers to the questions asked throughout the book! I also hate when the theory of evolution is ...more
Mar 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
I read this years ago, when it came out in 2003. It became one of those books that I will never forget, and periodically I look to see whether the author has managed to sneak anoather title out while I wasn't looking. (She hasn't until this year, when in August 2010, Scribner is publishing Strangers at the Feast, which has already garnered several five-star ratings.)

This particular book struck such a chord because it was about a graduate student trying to make headway with her research and disc
Aug 05, 2019 rated it liked it
I was looking forward to reading about Easter Island, about its people and monumental statues.

However, the style of writing is very descriptive. If you hatched out those descriptions, there wouldn’t be much to the story line.

Elsa with her husband and sister arrive at the Easter Island at 40% through the story.

Half way thorough the story, it is revealed what Elsa finds on the island and it becomes her project. “Elsa needs something on her own. She wants to secure a balance between them (her and h
May 16, 2019 rated it liked it
Easter Island’s another read that haunts me a bit after closing it. So tragic.

Deforestation hits home for me, draws me in to the island thread BIG time. I must confess, I knew absolutely nothing about the ‘piece’ of naval history (WWI) around which two of the three threads were set in their telling. And the history always pulls on me. The third thread re. palynology 😂 way way out of my league. I do not believe I have ever read another book on studies on spores. So it really stirred an interest.
Corinne Edwards
4.5 stars

Two capable and curious women arrive on Easter Island in very different circumstances. In 1913, Elsa lands on its barren shores in a boat with her new husband and sister. In the early 1970s, Greer, a botanist with her PhD focused on ancient pollen, has come to Easter Island to study its early ecological story. What these two women learn about this rugged, isolated land and what they learn about themselves, will tell a remarkable story of trust gained and lost, of what we dream of but th
Apr 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In 1913, Elsa Pendleton's father has recently died, leaving Elsa and her mentally delayed sister, Alice, in a dire financial situation. With The Feeble Minded Control Bill threatening Alice's future, Elsa makes a quick decision and agrees to marry her father's former colleague, Dr. Edward Beazley, who is thirty years older than she and not exactly the man of her dreams. And so, fleeing painful memories and a bleak future, Elsa, her new husband, Edward, and her sister, Alice, travel to Easter Isl ...more
Alexandra Alexandridou
Dec 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An amazing book!
This one should become famous!
Vanderbes has collected unique information about the Easter Island and created her characters by that. It combines history of the island from the first residents till now, everything that is known so far, knowledge of the plant population that existed there and how it affected the life of the people. The situation that was going on at universities with women students and women scientists, romance and many more. Her writing style is beautiful and it
Jun 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: women, fiction
Elsa Beazley came to Easter Island in 1913 and in the 1970’s Greer Farraday comes to Easter Island. Both come with a research agenda. I was slow to like this book, but it is a good story and by the end I was enthralled by the way the author overlaps the stories and uses the island’s famous secrets to tell how women make decisions.
Jodi Lofchy
Mar 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Love this book- not just because I read it while visiting Easter island- but because it was filled with strong and interesting women characters plus I learned a lot about a unique and rich culture rife with mysteries still unexplained.
Jul 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: rereading, favorites
I first read this book in 2003 and enjoyed it very much. It was destroyed along with many other books in a flood and was delighted that I was able to download it from Kindle. Prior to my first reading I had spent an all too short a time on the incredible and remote Rapa Nui (Easter Island) and wondered if that visit influenced my high rating for the book. The answer is definitely No.

This book may not be for everyone. It has much scientific research and history interwoven with the work, trials a
Nov 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
The debut novel of Jennifer Vanderbes, Easter Island is a tale of two women from two different eras, both of who move to Easter Island to find refuge from their pasts. Both women are curious and intelligent, and both experience betrayal and loss as well as true friendship and love. Each woman becomes passionate about her particular scientific research.

Though the details of the women’s lives, told in tandem, are radically different, both must adjust to the culture of island life in their respect
Jan 21, 2014 rated it it was ok
Well, I had high hopes for this book: it all sounded so intriguing. I've always been interested in novels that mix facts with fiction - it's a facsinating way of learning new things. But, I must say, this book was a disappointment. The style of writing wasn't very gripping and for the longest time I just kept expecting the story to become interesting at some point. In the end, the two stories - Elsa's and Greer's - were very loosely - too loosely - knit together. And the whole story of the Germa ...more
Dec 29, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction-2008
Yet another book about two sisters? What is with me! Strangely, this book has been sitting on my shelf unread since I bought it when it was originally published; yet I suddenly felt moved to pick it up and read it. The unconscious drive to sisterhood yet again.

I'm sorry it took me so long, as this was a carefully crafted story; if nothing else, the research that went into the writing of this novel is to be admired. The story moves back and forth between two female protagonists sixty years apart.
Abby Vegas
Jun 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one book that I didn't want to put down. Told as parallel tales (one in the distant past, another more contemporary), Easter Island is a compelling and suspenseful novel. The story has so many facets to it - courage, feminism, family, anthropology, botany... I don't know how Jennifer Vanderbes managed to tie it all together but she did a fantastic job. This is a stay-up-all-night-to-finish-it book. ...more
Jun 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I loved this novel. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in historical fiction, botany, Rapa Nui (Easter Island) and its mysteries, naval battles in World War I, and/or Darwin. It is a wonderful book!
Jana Bouc
Sep 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Fabulous book that combines great characters, science, history, psychology, mystery. A wonderful read!
Stephen Kiernan
Mar 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant, vivid, compelling. As skillful with narrative lines as Stegner's Angle of Repose. ...more
Jul 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I chose this book because I'm interested old-timey anthropology, women science-ing, sea voyages, and the folklore of the South Pacific - and I got all that in Easter Island. What I didn't expect was to be touched. I actually cried, not because anything tragic happened, but because this was so perfect. Vanderbes's writing was dynamic and evocative and beautiful, which was a lovely complement to the academic rigor and technical diction with which Greer and Elsa tackled their work. I also appreciat ...more
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Jennifer Vanderbes received her B.A. in English Literature from Yale and her M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the Iowa Writers' Workshop. Her first novel, Easter Island, was named a "best book of 2003" by the Washington Post and Christian Science Monitor and was translated into 16 languages. Her second novel, Strangers at the Feast, was called "a thriller that also raises
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