Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Race to Splendor-Ciji Ware

Race to Splendor
Ciji Ware
Sourcebooks, Apr 1 2011, $16.99
ISBN 9781402222696

In 1906 architect Amelia Bradshaw returns to San Francisco to take control of her late grandfather's Bay View Hotel adjacent to Chinatown. Amelia is stunned to find out that her heritage has been lost by her drunk of a father to J.D. Thayer in a poker game. She takes Thayer to court, but loses as women are legally unable to own property.

Disappointed with her dad and the law, Bradshaw obtains a position as a junior architect working for the first licensed female architect in the state’s history Julia Morgan. Her firm wins the contract to rebuild the earthquake damaged Bay View and Fairmont Hotels. This forces Bradshaw and Thayer to work close together as he has a goal for reopening his newly purchased Bay View; he wants to beat the first anniversary of the quake and open his doors before his rival the Fairmont does.

This is an exciting look at San Francisco just after the 1906 quake as readers observe a city filled with desperate people suffering from a lack of basic needs made worse by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The fast-paced story line also showcases the limited rights of women and that of Chinese workers. Readers will root for spunky Amelia as she refuses to allow man’s laws and the natural disaster to destroy her spirit. This is a great historical with an entertaining romantic subplot enhancing a look back at America in the first decade of the previous century.

Harriet Klausner

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