- Hardcover: 280 pages
- Publisher: University Press of Colorado; First Edition edition (March 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0870815660
- ISBN-13: 978-0870815669
- Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 0.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 10 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,826,337 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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For California's Gold Hardcover – March, 2000
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"Crowded with authentic detail, written with enviable grace and flair, FOR CALIFORNIA'S GOLD offers its readers a memorable story of tragedy and courage. In sum, JoAnn Levy has enriched gold rush literature."--J. S. Holliday, author of "Rush for Riches" and "The World Rushed In"
From the Inside Flap
"Heroically assimilating the primary sources of the Gold Rush, JoAnn Levy has created a novel that speaks with the panoramic force of history and the intimate voice of private experience. Here in fiction based on the record is the story of how one woman, alongside other women, left home, crossed the continent, loved, suffered, served, prevailed, embraced life--and helped found a commonwealth."--Dr. Kevin Starr, State Librarian of California
Top customer reviews
Although the main character is a woman, don't be misled into thinking this is a woman's book -- the story is broad in scope and universally revealing. Anyone interested in U.S. history and westward expansion will gain much from this novel. But be forewarned: while the language is beautiful, it is not likely to be an "easy" read for you either, as my husband now says...
Even after seeing and hearing my wife's emotional reaction to "For California's Gold," I wasn't prepared for what I found when it was my turn to pick it up. As historical fiction, this book is one of the best. Ms. Levy did extensive research into a pivotal time in American history and drew heavily from the journals and diaries of Gold Rush emigrants, expertly weaving actual events into a truly compelling story.
In first person, lead character Sarah Daniels tells of uprooting her family and leaving her comfortable life behind because her husband is irresistibly drawn westward by dreams of adventure and gold. As the story unfolds, she finds out how overwhelming such a journey can be, but she survives, learns hard lessons and succeeds even as life's often-tragic circumstances play themselves out. Throughout the book, her voice is so authentic that each of her experiences became a vivid personal experience for me in a way that reading actual diary entries do not.
Though I can't say I "enjoyed" all of it (many of the events are just too painful), I felt I was living the trip with Sarah and her family, mile after mile. (I'll not soon forget the feelings of utter desperation I felt during their death march across the Humbolt Sink.) And after the long, arduous trip, the telling of her family's life in the rough and tumble gold fields and equally rugged early days of Sacramento was just as captivating. What a time in history! Full of passion, ambition, humor, love, loss, struggle and triumph.
Another of Ms. Levy's excellent books, "Daughter of Joy," takes the same approach, drawing from real diaries and accounts of the early years in San Francisco. Its main character, based on an actual person, is a female Chinese immigrant, which gives the story a very unique and fascinating perspective. Both "For California's Gold" and "Daughter of Joy" are must-reads for anyone interested in an epic era of U.S. history, and they should be required reading in California's high school history curriculum.
Before reading this book I gave no particular thought to the nature of my understanding of these historical events. Now I've learned a new perspective is as beneficial in literature as it is in trying to find the car keys. In one 280-page book, JoAnn Levy has given the whole thing life.
Ms. Levy is a unique writing talent - she has done what few authors have the nerve to try; she has written a historical novel in the first person, and she has done it so beautifully it seems as if the book was indeed written in 1856 by a tempered-by-tragedy woman named Sarah Daniels.
Ms. Levy is remarkably clever in her use of storytelling techniques which successfully weave multiple threads of interest from the first page to the last. The attentive reader will pick up on this finely developed skill in the second sentence of the first chapter. Ms. Levy employs similar techniques throughout, and it is a delight.
This book is such a good read that it is recommended on that basis alone. But if a fascinating and unique look at one of the watershed eras in world history also interests you, then you will be doubly rewarded.