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Vera: A Novel (Hardcover)

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Description


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.

About the Author


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 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.

Praise For…


Praise for VERA

“Set in San Francisco during the great quake and fire of 1906, this wonderfully compelling novel takes us deeply into the heart and mind of an unforgettable fifteen year old girl, one who must find her way alone through a mother’s neglect, through bordellos and corrupt politicians, through the debris and ashes of what was once 'The Paris of the West.' Vera is that rare novel that you’ll want to buy for loved ones just as soon as you reach its shimmeringly beautiful ending. And its streetwise, resilient protagonist will stay with you for a very long time indeed.”
Andre Dubus III

“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

 

“Vera has always had to be scrappy and resourceful, even as a child. But the great earthquake of 1906 shakes even Vera, who is forced to imagine a new world for herself among an unlikely band of survivors.”
—BuzzFeed

"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."
Publishers Weekly

"Though it has a panoramic sweep, Carol Edgarian’s Vera is a novel of great immediacy and heart. From the early scene at the opera, to its shocking real-world correlative, this novel exists in the zone – let’s call it the world. In so many ways, it sings.”   
Ann Beattie

"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 

“Brilliantly conceived and beautifully realized.”
Booklist, STARRED review

“Brilliantly conceived and beautifully realized.”
Booklist, STARRED review

"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."
Kirkus Reviews


Product Details
ISBN: 9781501157523
ISBN-10: 1501157523
Publisher: Scribner
Publication Date: March 2nd, 2021
Pages: 336