Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Review-A Race to Splendor, Ciji Ware

Ciji Ware
Sourcebooks Landmark, April 2011
$16.99 U.S./£11.99 Trade Paperback,

On April 18th, 1906, San Francisco residents awoke to waves of destruction when a geological shift of earths pacific plates shift offshore. This April marks the 105th anniversary of the catastrophic earthquake that pummeled this city and destroyed nearly 400 city blocks.  The recent ruination of Japan by one of the worst earthquakes on record, and the subsequent wrath of the deadly tsunami, this historical fiction novel is an almost surreal reminder of our own frailty.

Ciji Ware has an admitted drive to tell the stories that weren’t told, those of the women who lived our past and contributed to the history. This story surrounds the life of a formidable woman, Amelia Bradshaw, an emerging architect who arrives stateside to claim her inheritance.  She is shocked to learn that her fool-hardy father, has gambled away her fortune, The Bay View Hotel in a winner take all card game. 
Her court battle to capture her legitimate right is defeated as the corrupt cronies working with the new charismatic owner J.D. Thayer ensure his victory. Forced to seek employment, Amelia is offered temporary work by her friend and mentor Julia Morgan.

After the earthquake insinuates itself into the lives of the residents, the race to rebuild from the rubble begins in earnest.  Amelia’s voice, tells the story and through the survivor’s lives prejudice and avarice embedded for years is unearthed.  Ware uses primary and secondary sources to support her opulent story of desire and greed. She sheds light on the influence of women professionals who, like Amelia and Julia had much at stake and much to prove during the turn of the century.

Ciji Ware continues to radiate the historical fiction genre with a spotlight on women’s accomplishments in history.  Highly recommended this novel glows with a careful blend of history and romance.

Review originally appeared in Historical Novels Review Magazine.  A copy of this book was sent to me by HNR magazine at no cost.

© [Wisteria Leigh] and [Bookworm's Dinner], [2008-2011].


Teddyree said...

I really enjoyed this one, and a period in America that I hadn't read much about. Looking forward to reading more of Ciji Ware's novels.

wisteria said...

Teddyree....You should read Cottage by the Sea and Island of the Swans. Both were fabulous!

troutbirder said...

Lots of interesting reviews (I skimmed back quite a bit) History and historical fiction is a top interest. My favorite author is Sharon Kay Penman. :)

wisteria said...

Troutbirder....Thanks for skimming through. I too think Sharon Kay Penman is spectacular. I have a couple in my TRB pile to get to.

Na said...

A RACE TO SPLENDOUR is on my wishlist. I really like the circumstances in which it takes place. The earthquake of San Francisco, for me is one of the most memorable and destructive natural disaster in history. I think of all the lives changed in the blink of an eye, the loss and the tragedy but the story brings hope and focuses on the rebuilding and the heart of it all is Amelia an architect. I would think in that time, her occupation itself was something uncommon and I imagine the constraints she faces.