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Vera: Book summary and reviews of Vera by Carol Edgarian

Vera

by Carol Edgarian

Vera by Carol Edgarian X
Vera by Carol Edgarian
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Book Summary

New York Times bestselling author Carol Edgarian delivers an astonishing feat of imagination, a grand adventure set in 1906 San Francisco - a city leveled by quake and fire - featuring an indomitable heroine coming of age in the aftermath of catastrophe and her quest for love and reinvention.

Meet Vera Johnson, the uncommonly resourceful fifteen-year-old illegitimate daughter of Rose, notorious proprietor of San Francisco's most legendary bordello and ally to the city's corrupt politicians. 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 violent, debt ridden domestic life of the family paid to raise her.

On the morning of the great quake, Vera's worlds collide. As the shattered city burns and looters vie with the injured, orphaned, and starving, Vera and her guileless sister, Pie, are cast adrift. Vera disregards societal norms and prejudices and begins to imagine a new kind of life. She collaborates with Tan, her former rival, and forges an unlikely family of survivors. Together they navigate their way beyond disaster.

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—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.

This richly imagined, timely tale of improbable outcomes and alliances takes hold from the first page, gifting readers with remarkable scenes of devastation, renewal, and joy. Told with unflinching candor and wit, Vera celebrates the audacious fortitude of its young heroine and marks a stunning achievement by an inventive and generous writer.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Brilliantly conceived and beautifully realized." - Booklist (starred review)

"[V]isceral...Despite some anachronistic word choices, the author paints a vivid portrait of a metropolis teeming with sex workers, immigrants, corrupt politicians, and artists, and it's fun to follow two strong young characters with very different views on life. The result makes for a stirring testament to a resilient city that never knew the meaning of the word quit." - Publishers Weekly

"The novel shines in painting a vivid picture of early-20th-century San Francisco, including its rowdy politics, but it falls short of truly immersing the reader...Frustratingly, the plot takes a huge leap after the early post-earthquake days, barely skirting by Vera's adulthood before we catch her again in old age. Even a memorable historical event can't shake up a mostly bland story." - Kirkus Reviews

"In addition to being an all-encompassing and enthralling historical novel, Vera parallels with the current era, and all of its accompanying losses." - O, the Oprah Magazine

"Sisters, mothers, heroines, charlatans, buffoons, scam artists, prostitutes, and the uncontrollable, passionate brawn of a young nation: in Vera we see, taste, smell the marrow of a country intoxicated on hope—all evidence to the contrary. Amazingly, Edgarian has captured a rolling, earnest, perpetual ruin so complex it could just be called life. She's conjured another wonderful novel out of dust, history, love." - Rick Bass

"In Vera, the past is as alive as you are, the brilliantly illuminated characters loving and surviving, breaking and building, destroying and redeeming, in rich detail and true color. Vera's 1906 is a world we see and live in." - Amy Bloom

"A novel of resilience in the face of disaster, just what we need right now. Carol Edgarian's tale couldn't have come at a better time." - T.C. Boyle

This information about Vera was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Carol Edgarian

Carol Edgarian is the author of the New York Times bestseller Three Stages of Amazement and the international bestseller Rise the Euphrates, winner of the ANC Freedom Prize. Her articles and essays have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, NPR, and W, among many others. She is cofounder and editor of Narrative, a nonprofit digital publisher of fiction, poetry, and art, and Narrative in the Schools, which provides free libraries and writing resources to teachers and students around the world. Edgarian lives with her family in San Francisco.

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