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Lost Kingdom becomes a book group pick!

Mahalo nui loa – which in Hawaiian means thank you very much! – to the half dozen or so book groups I’ve heard from around the country that have picked Lost Kingdom as their monthly or quarterly read. I’m truly grateful to all of you – from Liz Epstein’s Literary Masters groups (10 book groups in the San Francisco Bay Area) to Catherine Hartman’s lovely group in Chicago to Jason Poole (The Accidental Hawaiian Crooner) in Pittsburgh. Here are some questions to discuss on Lost Kingdom that come from Liz Epstein at Literary Masters. Hope they’re helpful and if you have other questions, I’d be delighted to skype or phone into your book group for a chat if my schedule permits.


Points to Ponder for Lost Kingdom


  • Whose story is Lost Kingdom and who should be telling it? Do you think Julia Flynn Siler, a haole or white foreigner to the islands, does a good job of showing all sides of this story about nineteenth century Hawaii?  Do you think it is an important story?
  • Is there a hero/heroine or villain/villainess in this story?
  • How do you feel about Lili'u?  Could she have done anything to alter the course of historical events?  Should she have?  Do you consider her a tragic figure?
  • How do you feel about King David Kalakaua?  How responsible was he for the course of events?
  • How do you feel about the way the United States handled the annexation of Hawaii?  Grover Cleveland claimed "Hawaii is ours...as I contemplate the means used to complete the outrage, I am ashamed of the whole affair."  Do you agree/ disagree with him?
  • How do you feel about the way the Hawaiians handled the annexation of Hawaii?  Did you get a good sense from the book as to how and why they behaved as they did?
  • How do you feel about Claus Spreckels?  What about Dole?  Are there other characters in the book that you feel played a pivotal role and you'd like to know more about them? 
  • What surprised you about the original missionaries, and then how do you feel about their descendents?  Was everyone generally well-intentioned, or was self-interest paramount?
  • What is the relevance of this history for us today?
  • Can you imagine an alternate history?  Where would Hawaii be today if the US hadn't annexed it?  Where would the US be today without Hawaii?
  • This was our non-fiction selection for the season.  Do you think this particular history of Hawaii could be better told as 'historical fiction'?