About the author
Historian Gene J. Parola, retired from Koç University in Istanbul, Turkey and re
turned to Hawai’i to delve into Kanaka history. “Lehua, Ka’ao a ka Wahine,” his Prize Winning Historical Novel, kept him in research for most of ten years.
Mr. Parola has published two mysteries ‘The Devil to Pay’, based on a Kennedy assassination theory, and “To Istanbul with Love” based on his years in the Middle East. He also has three collections of short stories.
Mr. Parola is a long-distance sailor, wood sculptor, lecturer and grandfather of three. He lives in Hawai’i with his author wife, Shirley Tong Parola.
Lehua, Ka’ao a ka Wahine
[Lehua, The Romance of a Hawaiian Girl]
A coming-of-age tale at a ‘Changing-of-the-Gods’.
The first wobbly American experiment in Pacific colonialism included forced political and religious upheavals in the Kingdom of Hawai'i after the death of King Kamehameha I in 1819.
At the command of Queen Ka’ahumanu to deny the old native religion, the ali’i (nobles) obey immediately. The kahuna (priests) become criminals, leaving no one to lead the commoners over this very difficult transition to an extremely conservative Calvinism. Lehua, an eighteen year old ali'i girl becomes a woman during this time of great cultural change.and she is forced to recognize the kuleana (responsibility) to lead that is thrust upon her as her entire way of life crumbles. As it does, the rich Hawaiian culture is revealed as are the losses suffered when white merchants and planters exploit the land. Ignorant Christian missionaries, bent on the ‘White Man's Burden', replace the kapu (taboos) of the kahuna (holy men) with the ‘fear of God‘ and subsequently disrupt the spiritual, political and, even agricultural, lives of the Kanaka (natives). Families separate, self-destruct and form new liaisons across cultural divides under external pressures.
Lehua plays a major role in this transition as she and her ohana (family) live their lives and loves against the backdrop of a dying Polynesia. She and her part-Hawaiian paniolo (cowboy) lover find each other amid these clashes and finally wed amid the scenic glory of a Kaua’i valley.
Lehua and the Sorcerer of Molokai. Vol. Two
Amazon Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars
A Romantic Historical Narrative May 28, 2013
By Lehua Parker
As a descendant of both the white merchants and the ali`i, I remember many family conversations, arguments really, about the reasons the Hawaiian nation was eventually conquered by business interests supported by the US government and whether or not this was pono. Through Lehua's journey, I was better able to understand the different points of view.
Lehua, Ka`ao a ka Wahine, by Gene J. Parola combines historical narrative with forbidden romance to paint a portrait of life in Hawai`i circa 1819, just as Queen Ka`ahumanu lifts the kapu, essentially abolishing the ancient Hawaiian religion and turning the caste system on its head. It's a period of Hawaiian history that is often glossed over as teachers tend to quickly move to the coming of the Christian missionaries soon after, and I
appreciated a more thoughtful approach to the effect these changes had on both the ali`i and maka`ainana--chiefs and commoners alike.
When I studied Hawaiian history in school, Queen Ka`ahumanu's actions were portrayed as noble, wise, modern. It's only lately that the hardships of the kapu system and other less noble motives such as a desire for worldly material possessions at too high a cost are being openly discussed as part of a more balanced conversation about that time.
I just wish I could go back in time to some of those family discussions and ask more questions!
Lehua is the first in a trilogy that follows a young ali`i woman through this turbulent time. I look forward to continuing the conversation.
4.0 out of 5 stars
Rich in history and detail December 31, 2013
By K. Westrope
This book was quite a surprise to me, as I discovered a land and time in history I had not previously explored. The story takes place in Hawaii in the 1800's, a time when trade and Christianity were just beginning to come to the islands. There is so much historical fact and vivid detail, the story really comes alive. Lehua, a young woman of noble blood comes of age during this turbulent time, struggling with her knowledge of tradition and the old ways, and the desire to experience the freedom of the new ways.
The author paints a vibrant picture of the land and culture, while lively characters enhance the story. If you enjoy reading about and discovering new lands and cultures, I recommend this book. I learned so much about the island culture and history.
5.0 out of 5 stars
"LEHUA" is like taking a lush journey to a Hawaii you never knew.
November 9, 2013
By Teresa L. Belardes
This is a story so rich in atmosphere and ancient Hawaiian Culture, that as a reader I was struck by just how ignorant I was about the culture itself and how greatly it was affected by the influx of travelers, traders and missionaries, who enveloped the Hawaiian islands in the early 1800's.
A combination of these forces mixed in strong combination with the illnesses and even the vices they introduced, were largely responsible for a
redistribution of power that would mark the end of the old Hawaiian ways, as the islanders are forced to turn from attendance to the Gods and
Goddesses of their Hawaiian ancestry, overseen by their Kahunas to worship the God of Christianity.
Intricate power struggles weave a backdrop for a beautiful romance between Lehua, a sheltered, but insightful young wahini (woman) aristocrat
with a deep love for her people, who has been sent to study at the renowned Hula Halau at the most prestigious hula school on the island of
Kauaii, and a paniolo (cowboy), son of a well-respected Chinese merchant who has deep ties to the island as well.
This story, the first in a trilogy, is lush garden of a story, with memorable characters, historically accurate events and a treasure chest of Hawaiian
history, lore, language, religion, politics and culture. The story, even though infused with many Hawaiian words, (which at first I was afraid would be
troublesome,) moves swiftly, and their inclusion proved to be no problem at all. In fact, they go a long way to enrich this extraordinary reading experience.
This was a pleasure of a page turner for me and I am looking forward to the next two parts of Lehua's very intriguing saga.
The story is a delight. Gentle, thoughtful and explores the deep differences between cultures and the clash that occurred when they met. It
also explores some of the truths about humans, whatever their ancestry - the struggle for power or glory or both and the lengths that people go to to keep their position within a society. [It] is also a love story with nuances and I will not spoil it by telling of them.
Paul Smith, Editor
Wise Grey Owl Publishing
...but Lehua is so much more. It submerges a reader into a beautifully rendered world of Old Hawaii right at the point when it goes into the giant
whirlwind of cultural revolution, mere months after the kapu based old system of beliefs is repelled, but before Christianity sets itself as a dominant religion.
The book is well written and dazzles with many colorful details of native Hawaiian life. It is richly sprinkled with Hawaiian expressions, many still in wide use.
I recommend it as much for a pleasure vacation reader as for the audience more inclined to enjoy the exotic tapestry of Kanaka culture in the little publicized period just before it was irreversibly overrun by foreign influences.
Alex Modzelewski, Editor
Clooney should grab this book and start filming before another ambitious filmmaker does.
"Descendants" was a George Clooney film that captured the interest of people when it dealt with the concept of land in Hawaii... Gene Parola's new book takes the reader through a period of 19th century change that radically touched the lives of those living through momentous upheaval.. (and) gives a solid understanding of what Clooney was only able to touch on in the space of his film. Cinematic in its approach, the book cries out for screen play treatment.
Ray Pace, Editor
Honolulu Arts Beat.
[The] possibilities for this book in the classroom are endless. Hawaiian studies,government policy, immigration, emigration, assimilation, and general cross cultural communication studies can all embrace this book.
OLD SINS, NEW SINNERS---Mystery set in New Orleans and Istanbul.
THE DEVIL TO PAY--Mystery surrounding JFK murder.
Short story collections:
THE PEARL HARBOR THAT DIDN’T HAPPEN--All set in Hawai’i.
THE LITTLE AMERICAN BLONDE--All Middle East settings.
! ! “Portraits of a Young Artist in Istanbul” Won Editor’s Choice Award.
THE PROFESSIONAL--Humorous look at the American Medical system.
A HURRICANE HANDBOOK
Dr. Parola is a free lance writer of Business (Honolulu Star Bulletin, July 28, 2002) and Technical articles (Hurricane Handbook, Sail Net
News, Spring, 2003)and in Generations Magazine, May 2010. His short stories have been published in Voices from the Universe, in Bamboo
Ridge 25th Anniversary Edition, and in the Spring 2006 edition.