ForeWord Reviews

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A Race to Splendor

Foreword Review — Mar / Apr 2011

Amelia stared at the remnants of her former life and grieved for every lost doorway and chimney of the grand Victorian lady. Somewhere in the charred ruins were the carbon splinters of a cherry wood bar and a couch where Ling Lee had met her end. The table and the lighting fixture that had broken her father’s back had since dissolved into ash. She scanned the cones of black and broken plaster, some ten feet high, which looked like extinct volcanoes. Next door, the crazy, trigger-happy old lady’s three-story house and back garden fence were reduced to cinders.

On April 18, 1906, a devastating earthquake hit San Francisco, a natural disaster that continues to serve as a frightful reminder that, try as we might, man cannot control geological forces. Commemorating the 105th anniversary of this catastrophe, A Race to Splendor is a gripping, heavily researched novel focusing on the story of Amelia Bradshaw, an architect involved in rebuilding two competing hotels following the tragedy. A woman ahead of her time both in terms of education and ambition, this admirable character is an inspiration even to twenty-first-century readers. (The story features her working for, then competing with, real-life heroine Julia Morgan, mistress to William Randolph Hearst and architect of his legendary castle, San Simeon, and the inspiration behind this book.)

A Race to Splendor is a penetrating look at what it takes to survive and what it means to succeed in a city that has literally crumbled. Greed and envy, anger and rage, love and lust all make an appearance in this fascinating exploration of human nature. The intriguing, dedicated personalities in Ware’s latest release provide an excellent source of information about the San Francisco tragedy as well as captivating entertainment.

A resident of San Francisco, Ciji Ware is an award-winning author of fiction and nonfiction, a television producer, and radio host. She has a degree in history from Harvard University and became the first woman president of the school’s alumni association. Also a journalist and public speaker, Ware boasts a family of successful writers dating back to the early nineteenth century.

Julia Ann Charpentier