"A scintillating consideration of the classical trope of the odyssey in Pacific voyages in moulding the subjectivity of men and their perceptions of women. Her analyses of the relation between women, water, and sexual danger and the figures of sirens, nymphs and mermaids are captivating."
-Margaret Jolly, Australian National University
"O'Brien's book contributes to the burgeoning field of studies of gender and sexuality in Pacific Studies at the same time that it broadens the feminist critique of constructions of sexuality and gender... O'Brien allows us to glimpse many fascinating women, including Alice Henriette Handy, a Maori woman who was taken to America by her father, a New England whaling captain; and Maria de los Santos y Castro, a fifteen-year-old girl from Guam who was married to Matthew Mazarro, a Genoese four times her age."
"The Pacific Muse is a complex historical narrative and O'Brien wields a vast amount of material."
-Journal of Folklore Research
"O'Brien's panoramic study on the evolution of the Western notion of the exotic feminine in the Pacific is riveting..The book is essential reading because the Pacific Muse remains alive and well today - precisely because she continues to serve this role."
-Journal of Pacific History
"As a 'gender-focused world history', Patty O'Brien foregrounds the female body in her exploration of the colonial South Pacific. O'Brien takes an overlapping thematic and chronological approach, tracing the production of exotic femininity from its foundations in antiquity through the present day.. [it is] an engaging, wide-ranging, and insightful work, enhanced by the liberal inclusion of excellent images."
"As Patty O'Brien illustrates with almost encyclopedic detail, since their earliest connections with Europeans, Pacific womenhave been portrayed as lascivious, hypersexual, sensual, enticing, and always available. . . . O'Brien's task is to unfold the sexing of the Pacific, from Renaissance representations of the sixteenth century to the celluloid images of the twentieth. . . The research is meticulous."
"Patty O'Brien's study offers readers an examination of the role of the feminine in the construction of the Pacific in the western imagination. . . [a] rich and detailed book."
-Pacific Historical Review
"The Pacific Muse reaches beyond the words and images that Europeans, particularly European men, painted about women in the Pacific. O'Brien explores the relationship between images of Pacific womanhood and different configurations of imperialism around the region."
-Journal of Women's History