Vera: A Novel –

Vera: A Novel Vera Johnson has lived a long, long life and in all of her years none have proved to be as momentous, as exciting, as devastating as 1906, the year San Francisco was nearly leveled by an epic earthquake In 1906 Vera was 15, a bastard child of SF’s most popular madam, given to and paid for a Swedish single mother to raise alongside her own child Vera has a scant relationship with her birthmother, a potently ambitious well connected woman who for all her admirable qualities doesn’t have a maternal bone in her body Until the earthquake rips through the city permanently altering all preexisting arrangements and Vera and her (nonbiological) sister Pie find themselves taking possession of a fancy mansion she never got to grow up in, her birthright But the girls are not alone, they are antagonized and cared for in equal measures by her mother’s former employee Tan and his family, just as the position of Chinese people in the city gets suddenly quite precarious There’s a love interest that slowly makes his way into the picture There are all the terrific variegated players who slowly come to populate the place And then there are real life characters cleverly integrated into the fabric of the plot, from politicians to socialites All set against the backdrop of the city ravaged by nature and yet poised to make yet another comeback, to live up to its flag, to rise from the ashes There are great many things this novel gets right the first and foremost of them being creating a genuinely excellent young protagonist in adult fiction It isn’t often than a 15 year old can carry a story with such aplomb It’s a bildungsroman in a way, of course, 1906 shapes Vera into a person of steel, will and drive she becomes, albeit possibly stealing away too much softness through teaching some lessons too early and too brutally Secondly, there are some terrific descriptions of the city I’ve recently armchair traveled to SF, but a present day version This was a time machine armchair trip, which is almost as good as hot tub time machine and by some accountsso, especially in the summer The writing is good, the characters are enjoyable, it’s sad without being depressing Not sure why I didn’t love it, though I definitely liked it a lot A transporting sort of entertainment, Great for fans of historical fiction Recommended Thanks Netgalley. This was an interesting and sometimes heartbreaking read Vera is scrappy and resilient, qualities I admire in a female character I would have liked to seeglimpses into her future than what we got.This was somewhere between 3.5 and four stars for me, as sometimes I wanted it to move along a bit quicker.Kindly received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. A sweeping and richly captivating novel about an indomitable heroine coming of age in the aftermath of catastrophe, and her quest for love and reinvention—from the acclaimed New York Times bestselling author of Three Stages of Amazement Scrappy fifteenyearold Vera Johnson—illegitimate daughter of Rose, the notorious proprietor of San Francisco’s ritziest bordello and ally to the city’s corrupt politicians—narrowly survives the devastatingearthquake Relying on her wit and determination, Vera and her unlikely new family of survivors navigate a world reborn in the wake of disaster In Vera, Carol Edgarian creates a panoramic and deeply compassionate world where notions of honor, survival, and love are tested, and grace is hardwon Vera celebrates the bold resilience its heroine bears in the face of a disregarding mother and a colorful cohort of liars, thieves, and con artists who would manipulate the teenage girl while her righteous neighbors judge her for her low birth A ravishing, heartbreaking, and profound affirmation of youth and a testament to a city eternally reimagining itself, Vera’s story brings to life legendary characters—tenor Enrico Caruso, indicted Mayor Eugene Schmitz and boss Abe Ruef, tabloid celebrity and fabled doyenne Alma Spreckels, as well as an unforgettable cast that includes Vera’s young lover, Bobby, protector of the city’s tribe of orphans, and three generations of a Chinese family competing and conspiring with Vera Told with unflinching candor and wit, this comingofage adventure investigates the nature of sex, power, and the fortitude required to lead, as it charts one tumultuous year in the life of a girl and her city This tale of improbable outcomes and alliances takes hold from the very first page, gifting readers with remarkable scenes of devastation, renewal, and joy Edgarian’s Vera is a timeless and timely novel of an indomitable spirit’s quest for love and reinvention in the aftermath of catastrophe

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