The Descendants by Kaui Hart Hemmings

From TheBookbag
Jump to navigationJump to search

The Descendants by Kaui Hart Hemmings

Buy The Descendants by Kaui Hart Hemmings at or

Category: General Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: With his wife in an irreversible coma Matt King sets off ona journey to bring his wife's lover to say his goodbyes. Thought-provoking and frequently darkly funny.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 304 Date: January 2012
Publisher: Vintage
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0099570240

Share on: Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Instagram


On the face of it Matt King is very lucky. He's descended from one of Hawaii's largest landowners and is a wealthy man as well as being an attorney. He's married to the flighty, flirtatious Joanie and has two daughters, teenager Alex, a model who might just have a bit of a drug problem and ten year old Scottie. She's feisty, clever and - for me - stole the book. Have you ever noticed that when luck changes it doesn't do it in baby steps? It does it in lumps. Joanie is involved in a powerboat accident and sinks into an irreversible coma as a result of a head injury. But there's more piling up. Matt discovers that Joanie has been having an affair. Does the man who's been - er - enjoying his wife have the right to say his goodbyes too?

Matt King's a boy-man when the book opens. He doesn't really know his daughters - he always thought that he'd get into them later - and Joanie along with the housekeeper seem to keep life moving smoothly for him. Now he's got to make decisions for himself and his daughters - and for Joanie. He's got to get that one right, particularly as it's going to be the last thing that he can do for her and how it's done will have a lasting effect particularly on Scottie. He, his daughters and Alex's friend Sid set off on a journey to find Joanie's lover.

It's an unreal situation which swings between tragedy and comedy but manages to completely avoid any sentimentality. Matt has another problem on his hands too. He's supposed to be selling some land on behalf of the trust of which he's one of the major beneficiaries and has to decide on a buyer. There's one local bidder but Matt can't work out why Joanie was so keen on this bid when it wasn't the highest.

It's a thought-provoking story. I was smacked time and time again by the thought that Joanie had been so alive, so vivid and now she's going to die all because of an accident which needn't have happened. How does he tell Scottie, who's at that strange age of not yet being a woman but who's definitely not a child. How much does she understand? And, of course, the tragedy, the farce is set against the stunning background of Hawaii. Pain happens, even in Paradise.

It's a great story, with more layers than are at first apparent and it's been written with assurance and sensitivity. I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

If this book appeals then we think you might also enjoy This Beautiful Life by Helen Schulman

Please share on: Facebook Facebook, Follow us on Twitter Twitter and Follow us on Instagram Instagram

Buy The Descendants by Kaui Hart Hemmings at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Descendants by Kaui Hart Hemmings at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy The Descendants by Kaui Hart Hemmings at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Descendants by Kaui Hart Hemmings at


Like to comment on this review?

Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.