Historical Fiction – “Picture Bride”, A Family Saga

Historical Fiction – “Picture Bride”, A Family Saga

Historical Fiction by Michael G. Malaghan

Michael G. Malaghan
Special to The Hawai‘i Herald

Editor’s note: We continue Michael G. Malaghan’s serialized historical novel, “Picture Bride — A Family Saga,” based on the Japanese immigrant experience. Malaghan’s trilogy takes readers from turn-of-the-20th-century-Japan to Hawai‘i in the picture bride era; the Islands during World War II, highlighted by the exploits of the Nisei soldiers; and beyond.

The novel, which is now available as a printed softcover book, opens with 12-year-old Haru-chan, fleeing her home in Amakusa, Kyüshü, for Hiroshima, where she becomes the picture bride of a Buddhist priest in Hawai‘i.

Author Michael Malaghan is a retired businessman who divides his time between Hawai‘i, Florida and Japan.


Edward Spalding, president of Honolulu’s prestigious Pacific Club, examined his Havana cigar. “Why can’t someone invent a proper cigar box, one that keeps them moist?” he asked to no one in particular, his nose wrinkled. Spaulding cut the end of his and dipped it into his Armagnac. The club’s senior butler, a snowy-haired Azorean, padded to Spalding’s side, struck a long match and held it steady until the cigar’s tip glowed uniformly red.

The sugar cane barons sat in ruby-hued high-back chairs upholstered with felt that were loosely arranged around a pair of coffee tables in the men-only smoking room. They began their own cigar-smoking rituals, as if preparing a choreographed sacramental offering.

Lining the dimly lit baroque walls were staid portraits of past presidents dating back to the club’s founding in 1852 when it was called the “British Club,” reflecting its business dominance at the time. Outside the windows, where vineyards once flourished, gas-lit torches glowed beneath palm tree fronds snapping in the wind. None of the trade winds ripping up from the harbor filtered into the enclosed room, which suited the men just fine, for they enjoyed air rich with cigar perfume — the fragrance of power.

Except for their spokesman, the lanky John Waterhouse, the men thought of their Teddy Roosevelt girth as evidence of their success. Bilkerton, the only nervous man in the circle, dipped his cigar in his brandy without first cutting off the tip. He missed the disdain in the eyes of the other men as he said, abruptly, “I believe, Eddie, you were present in this club when the decision was made to overthrow the queen.”

“It’s Edward, if you don’t mind, Joshua.” Spalding drew on his cigar and let the smoke out slowly.

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As a new retiree who was free to dream, Michael G. Malaghan attended a Maui Writers Conference presentation on historical novels. It left him with a deep desire to meld his interests in history and writing. After attending the premiere of historian Tom Coffman’s 2007 documentary, “The First Battle,” which detailed how Hawai‘i’s Japanese community avoided mass internment by preparing for that expected consequence three years before Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, Mike decided to tell the entire Japanese immigrant experience in historical novel form. His trilogy will take readers from turn-of-the-20th-century-Japan to Hawai‘i in the picture bride era; the Islands during the World War II, highlighted by the exploits of the Nisei soldiers; and beyond. Mike was born in the Midwest and raised in Florida. He graduated from the University of Florida and volunteered for the Peace Corps after college. In his business life he was president of a Walt Disney licensee, marketing English language learning materials in Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Korea. Mike and his wife Tomoko, a native of Tochigi Prefecture, are worldwide travelers and adventurers. They split their time between homes in Waikiki and Winter Park, Fla., and also spend nearly a month every year visiting with Tomoko’s parents in Japan, where Mike also conducts workshops for his former company.


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