> Skip to content

Narrated in a fearless voice full of bold hilarity and set against the lush, panoramic backdrop of Hawaii, The Descendants is a stunning debut novel about an unconventional family forced to come together and re-create its own legacy.

A descendant of one of Hawaii's largest landowners, Matthew King finds his luck has changed. His two daughters - Scottie, a feisty ten-year-old, and Alex, a teenage recovering drug addict - are out of control; his thrill-seeking, high-maintenance wife, Joanie, lies in a coma after a boat-racing accident and will soon be taken off life support. Suddenly the King family must come to terms with this tragedy - and with the shameful sense of freedom that comes with it. As Matt gathers Joanie's friends and family to say their final goodbyes, a difficult situation is made worse by the discovery that one person hasn't been told - the man with whom Joanie has been having an affair. Forced to examine what he owes not only to the living but also to the dead, Matt takes to the road with his daughters to find his wife's lover on a memorable journey of painful revelations and unforeseen humour.


Shockingly irreverent and funny while exerting that all-important emotional tug... A well-plotted, unexpectedly twisting saga


Kaui Hart Hemmings' assured touch and her fine grasp of the absurd ensures that this novel steers a deliciously scenic route between heartbreak and hilarity

Daily Mail

An assured and subtle writer. The islands rise lush and untamed in the background


A darkly funny debut...a sharp story of emotional and sexual awakening in idyllic Hawaii


Utterly original and absolutely compelling...a fantastic first novel

Geoff Dyer

An unsentimental tragicomedy, whose somewhat hopeless male protagonist is so believable that it's a surprise to discover his creator is young, female and only on her first novel.'

Dazed and Confused

Hemmings' quirkily assured touch, her grasp of the absurd and the lush Hawaiian setting ensures this novel's balance between heartbreak and hilarity

Marie Claire

Full of dark humour and astute observations, this is a deftly written rumination on the meaning of family and ancestry

Big Issue

A panoramic tragicomedy about the transience of life...a sensitive, unsentimental vision that is often peppered with comic barbs...treads the fragile thread between heartbreak and humour, announcing Kaui Hart Hemmings as a writer of prodigious gifts

Time Out

Gripping and funny... A brave and intelligent novel

Sunday Telegraph

Read More

Formats & editions

  • Paperback


    January 1, 2012


    304 pages

    RRP $19.99

    Online retailers

    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Amazon
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Dymocks
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • The Nile
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook


    September 1, 2010

    Vintage Digital

    304 pages

    Online retailers

    • iBooks
    • Amazon Kindle
    • Booktopia
    • eBooks
    • Google Play
    • Kobo

Also by Kaui Hart Hemmings