An historical novel of American missionaries in Hawaii in the early 19th century, this tells of Dr. Gerrit Judd, his wife, Laura and several other Americans who are fired by the enthusiasm, diary and missionary work of Sophie Bingham. They follow her to live in grass huts with the hope of colonizing, humanizing and moralizing the bare-breasted Hawaiians. Dr. Gerrit doctors the natives, becomes seriously involved in island politics and has many children. Medically and politically powerful, he faces such problems as changing Hawaii from a feudal autocracy to a representative government, and the issue of whether the French, the English or the Americans are to dominate the Islands. His wife, Laura, is a source of comfort and inspiration while she dreams of a white picket fence around her house. Some of the missionaries, like Bingham, are fanatics; others like Gerrit are interested simply in humanity. All are apt to be wondrously and morally white, making this somewhat toneless and often dull.