Book Talk: Vera: A Novel by Carol Edgarian
" An all-encompassing and enthralling historical novel, Vera parallels with the current era."
—O, The Oprah Magazine
New York Times bestselling author Carol Edgarian delivers a grand adventure set in 1906 San Francisco featuring an unforgettable heroine coming of age in the aftermath of catastrophe, and her quest for love and reinvention.
About the Book
Meet Vera Johnson, fifteen-year-old illegitimate daughter of Rose, notorious proprietor of San Francisco’s most legendary bordello. Vera has grown up straddling two worlds—the madam’s alluring sphere, replete with tickets to the opera, surly henchmen, and scant morality, and the quiet domestic life of the family paid to raise her.
On the morning of the great quake, Vera’s worlds collide. As the city burns and looters vie with the injured, orphaned, and starving, Vera and her guileless sister, Pie, are cast adrift. Disregarding societal norms and prejudices, Vera begins to imagine a new kind of life. She collaborates with Tan, her former rival, and forges an unlikely family of survivors, navigating through the disaster together.
In Vera, Carol Edgarian creates a cinematic, deeply entertaining world, in which honor and fates are tested; notions of sex, class, and justice are turned upside down; and love is hard-won. A ravishing, heartbreaking, and profound affirmation of youth and tenacity, Vera’s story brings to life legendary characters—tenor Enrico Caruso, indicted mayor Eugene Schmitz and boss Abe Ruef, tabloid celebrity Alma Spreckels.
This richly imagined, timely tale of improbable outcomes and alliances takes hold from the first page, with remarkable scenes of devastation, renewal, and joy. Vera celebrates the audacious fortitude of its young heroine, who discovers an unexpected strength in unprecedented times.
Reviews & What Readers Say
“ Vera is a triumph—a story of disaster and healing, power and humility, grit and grace set against the lush, lascivious backdrop of San Francisco during the 1906 earthquake. This book is as whip smart as its heroine and as electric as her city and will haunt me—in the best way—for a long time to come.”
—Anna Solomon, author of The Book of V
“ Reading about the sudden destruction of a world right in the middle of our own 21st century crisis helped me understand that the question we’re asking now is one we’ve asked before: where do we go from here? Vera brings to vivid life a historical moment that defined a city, an era. It’s an extraordinary glimpse into the American DNA.”
―Mary Beth Keane, author of Ask Again, Yes
“The San Francisco earthquake of 1906 extinguishes all sense of normalcy for 15-year-old Vera Johnson, who must survive by sheer pluck and intelligence in the newly rattled landscape... . The novel shines in painting a vivid picture of early-20th-century San Francisco, including its rowdy politics.”
“The author paints a vivid portrait of a metropolis teeming with sex workers, immigrants, corrupt politicians, and artists... The result makes for a stirring testament to a resilient city that never knew the meaning of the word quit.”
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