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Publisher's Summary

New York Times best-selling author Carol Edgarian delivers “an all-encompassing and enthralling” (Oprah Daily) novel featuring an unforgettable heroine coming of age in the aftermath of catastrophe, and her quest for love and reinvention.

Meet Vera Johnson, 15-year-old illegitimate daughter of Rose, notorious proprietor of San Francisco’s most legendary bordello. 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 quiet domestic life of the family paid to raise her.

On the morning of the great quake, Vera’s worlds collide. As the city burns and looters vie with the injured, orphaned, and starving, Vera and her guileless sister, Pie, are cast adrift. Disregarding societal norms and prejudices, Vera begins to imagine a new kind of life. She collaborates with Tan, her former rival, and forges an unlikely family of survivors, navigating through the disaster together.

“A character-driven novel about family, power, and loyalty, (San Francisco Chronicle), Vera brings to life legendary characters - tenor Enrico Caruso, indicted mayor Eugene Schmitz and boss Abe Ruef, tabloid celebrity Alma Spreckels. This “brilliantly conceived and beautifully realized” (Booklist, starred review) tale of improbable outcomes and alliances takes hold from the first word, with remarkable scenes of devastation, renewal, and joy. Vera celebrates the audacious fortitude of its young heroine, who discovers an unexpected strength in unprecedented times.

©2021 Carol Edgarian. All rights reserved. (P)2021 Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved.

Critic Reviews

"Narrator Kathe Mazur carefully crafts the diverse characters in this entertaining novel. Her accents - which range from Swedish to Viennese - add to the audiobook's appeal. A talented mimic, Mazur cleverly shades the various female characters' voices. Her commanding portrayal of Rose, the absentee mother of the title character and madam of an eponymous brothel, reveals the powerful woman at her most vulnerable during the days after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Mazur's rendition of whip-smart 15-year old Vera captures her ability to see all sides of people, good and bad. Listeners will vividly imagine turn-of-the-century San Francisco, replete with scoundrels and kindly prostitutes. All are enlivened by the engaging Vera, a survivor who tells her own story." (AudioFile Magazine)

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What listeners say about Vera

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

The Phoenix here is more than San Francisco

Loved it! I learned so much about the quake of 1906 through Vera and the other characters in this novel. Reader was excellent.

20 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars

A 3.75 read

It took forever to get started. Had a few really good parts then the ending just kind of faded away. I had already invested too much time in it to give up. I did learn a tad about the SF earthquake but I really didn’t know anything about it!!!

19 people found this helpful

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Did Not Disappoint.

The start was slow, but needed to create a well laid foundation for the story.
The story did not disappoint as all the intertwined characters made their way through surviving and thriving after the earthquake of all earthquakes in the United States early history.
The narrator was easy to listen to and nicely let us know which character was speaking.

4 people found this helpful

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  • LR
  • 12-06-21

Emotional abandonment in the time of the SF quake

The author captures a quality of emotional untangling I’ve never read before. It was questioning and heart driven. The internal struggles and development were so relatable tho it was set in such a specific setting. My husband and I both devoured this book. Thank you Carol Edgarian for creating this multidimensional book.

2 people found this helpful

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It seems stunted

A somewhat enjoyable listen, but I kept waiting for the main character to develop into adulthood, and it never happened. The ending fast forwards through Vera's life, and that's it. I was left with a sense of having missed the main act.

1 person found this helpful

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Great Story

This story has everything - a well told tale full of history, humanity (and the lack of it), and life.

Highly recommend!

1 person found this helpful

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Interesting story, great characters

The first half was excellent, I loved how Vera developed and interacted with her sister, pie. The last half fell flat I thought. It almost felt like 2 separate authors.

1 person found this helpful

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Fix the Ending

The story was good until it seemed like the author got tired of it and it ended abruptly.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Love-starved Heroine Sustains a Life in Crisis

Where is home? Who is your family? Vera is forced to create her own story after the San Francisco Earthquake and Fire kills her caretaker nanny and well paid foster mom. As Vera turns 16 she is building a base of friends from thieves and prostitutes. She rescues her near-death but loveless mother and, inadvertently with Vera's one act of stealing, her mother's shady politician cohort is saved from prison. Vera's mother Rose thanks her with abandonment, but Vera later finds an overlooked gift from her mother. She was left the deed to the family house of ill repute. Vera finds legal ways to support her lazy sister for months, and is thanked by having her soulmate boyfriend stolen behind her back. She discovers who her friends are as she continues to find the best in herself and others. She works to form a family for herself, but soon starts to see Rose and the Mayor appearing in the shadows. I smell a sequel, so hold a copy for me!

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    5 out of 5 stars

Overcoming disappointment and catastrophy

This is a coming of age story set in the aftermath of a disaster. I pulled for Vera throughout the entire story.