Tag Archives: Earthquakes

Review: Vera


By Carol Edgarian
Scribner, 9781501157523, March 2021, 336pp.

The Short of It:

Not the thrilling historical novel I expected.

The Rest of It:

I can’t recall any other stories I’ve read that were set during the San Francisco quake of 1906. For this reason, when Vera showed up on my doorstep I was very excited to read it. Much of the city was destroyed by the quake itself but whatever was left was taken by the fires that resulted from compromised gas lines and the like. In Vera, Vera and her sister Pie are left without a home, their mother killed in the quake. Young, but old enough to fend for themselves, they head to Madam Rose’s house to take refuge. But when they arrive Rose is nowhere to be seen and Vera and Pie are left wondering if she survived the quake.

You may have caught my mention of it above, Rose ran a brothel and was known to many in the area. A brothel is not a place for young girls to take refuge unless you want a reputation to go with it. However, Vera and Pie don’t have many options and when Rose’s hired man, Tan, finds a way to make a living and to keep the food on the table, Vera and Pie stick around while Vera vows to find Rose and to bring her back.

There is an interesting cast of characters in this novel and Vera is likable and plucky and determined. I enjoyed her persistence but felt that overall the story was lackluster. What could have been a thrilling adventure was only lukewarm in the telling. I was in the devastating Northridge quake, right at the epicenter and can speak from experience. It’s a harrowing event to live through and needs become known quite quickly like how will one relieve themselves when no running water exists? How will one buy supplies when there is no power and ATMs don’t work, or even filling up the gas tank to get out of town. Gas pumps do not work when there is no power. Obviously, the story is set in 1906 so these characters don’t worry about such things but I didn’t sense the immediate panic that one experiences after such a devastating event.

All in all, the story was just okay for me. I think it could have been a lot more riveting had we been given a real sense of the panic that these two women felt.

Source: Review copy provided by the publisher.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Looks Like I Made It

That reminds me a little of the Barry Manilow song, but guess what guys? I made it through the week. Wednesday was rough. It sure doesn’t take long to feel exhausted. But we switched up some stuff around the house to make our mornings a little easier, and so far, it’s going pretty well.

The topic of the week has been our weather. The dryness is a bit ridiculous now and I fear that water rationing is around the corner. Which makes no sense because if our yards die and turn to dead brush, they’ll go up in flames and then the fire department will use a ton of water anyway so why not just cut back? The talk is that we won’t be allowed to do ANY outdoor watering. That’s just not possible in dry California.

Also, today is the 20th anniversary of the Northridge quake which screwed me up in many ways. I lived at the epicenter and we lost everything. We were renting, but we lost most of our stuff since we couldn’t get stuff out before it was red tagged. I lost my place of employment which was also red tagged. It was rough. I had also just finished my B.A. at CSUN and yet, my records were not easy to access and confirm. I had also just applied for a job there. It was an interesting time.

This was the parking lot that I used to park in. Since the quake hit during a holiday, I was not there! That parking lot was the first multi-level parking structure for the campus and as you can see, it was a goner.

CSUN Quake Damage

And this is a picture of the building I work in now, but right after the quake. It took a long time for the campus to rebuild. People worked in portable domes for many years afterward.

Oviatt Library Quake Damage

I should note, that there have been four small earthquakes this week. As soon as I get home, I am just going to put some things together (just in case). Before the Northridge quake, I remember there being a series of small quakes and it’s making me a little nervous. It’s hard to keep an earthquake kit up to date. Things expire, even fabric becomes brittle and after rotating stuff out a few times, I felt it was very expensive to keep it up. So now, when I notice a pattern, I try to put stuff together.

And just so we don’t end this on a bad note, this is the library today. I work underneath all that concrete at the very bottom. No windows for me but the “garden” level held up pretty well and seems like the most stable place to be. I like to think that anyway.

Oviatt Library

I can’t believe it’s been twenty years.