Look closely at this magnificent cover and you’ll see San Francisco, burning. The year is 1906 and the big earthquake has come and gone and left the entire city in flames. People are displaced. Everyone is in turmoil. Some have fled the city and the left- behind are scratching through the rubble and searching for a new way of life.
Vera is the illegitimate daughter of Rose, the most notorious madam in San Francisco. Rose tried unsuccessfully to raise Vera but once the toddler was able to walk and talk even Rose knew a brothel was no place for a child. So she found a nice widow woman with a child Vera’s age to raise her. Then we discover that the nice widow lady is not so nice, is actually mean and has a drinking problem along with a tendency to gamble. So there is that.
The early morning hours of the earthquake that pretty much ended up destroying San Francisco finds Vera wandering the streets of the great city with her so-called sister, trying to make sense of the tragedy and looking for a way out. It dawned on Vera that she must find Rose. Rose could help them. Save them.
The scenes of the devastation are uncanny and seem very realistic and frightening. Rose is nowhere to be found. But then Vera remembers that Rose has a big house on the hill and surely they would be safe there as it was farther from the fires.
Everyone is thrown together as they all flow away from the fires that threaten to destroy everything and everyone in their path. Immigration issues are addressed as we find the Chinese people who were living in the area were struggling to survive even before the disasters.
This is an amazing story of survival and humanity. Great for bookclubs. Wonderful characters to explore. Not to be missed.
My review copy arrived from Scribner in exchange for an honest review. I loved it! You can order your copy from Copperfish Books and receive 20% off. Cheers.