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Race to Splendor [Paperback]

Ciji Ware
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

30 April 2011
Inspired by female architect Julia Morgan, this is the riveting tale of a race against time to rebuild two luxury hotels after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake destroyed 400 city blocks and left 250,000 homeless. Morgan's fictional protegee Amelia Bradshaw and client J.D. Thayer will sacrifice anything to see the city they love rise from the ashes; in the process, they can't help but lose their hearts.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks, Inc (30 April 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1402222696
  • ISBN-13: 978-1402222696
  • Product Dimensions: 20.2 x 13.7 x 2.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 211,394 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

CIJI WARE is an Emmy award-winning television producer, reporter, writer, lecturer, and host. Her latest work is the novella "The Ring of Kerry Hannigan," part of the RING OF TRUTH anthology with novelists Diana Dempsey and Kate Moore, published in July 2014.

Ware has won numerous awards for her 9 works of fiction, including the Dorothy Parker Award of Excellence; the 'Golden Quill' award for Historical Fiction;'Best Fictionalized Biography' for ISLAND OF THE SWANS and 'Best Historical Novel nomination for WICKED COMPANY from Romantic Times magazine. Her novel, A RACE TO SPLENDOR debuted in April, 2011 on the 105th anniversary of the devastating 1905 San Francisco Earthquake and Firestorm and was short-listed for the WILLA (Cather) Literary Award in 2012. Her first all-contemporary work of fiction, THAT SUMMER IN CORNWALL, was published in January, 2013, and is a stand-alone sequel to her bestselling "time-slip" novel, A COTTAGE BY THE SEA. The second in Ware's Four Seasons Quartet, THAT AUTUMN IN EDINBURGH--also a contemporary, stand-alone sequel to ISLAND OF THE SWANS--was published in November, 2013. For the latter novel, she was bestowed the honor of FSA Scot, of which she is exceedingly proud.

Ware's most recent nonfiction, RIGHTSIZING YOUR LIFE: Simplifying Your Surroundings While Keeping What Matters Most was named by the Wall Street Journal as "One of the Top 5 Books on Retirement Issues." For seventeen years Ware was heard daily as a commentator on ABC Radio & TV in Los Angeles. During her noted career as a broadcaster, she has worked for PBS and all three major network affiliates, covering a wide range of topics in the areas of health, consumer and lifestyle subjects. Ciji Ware is also a sought-after event speaker, print journalist, (AARP, Travel & Leisure and other national magazines) and has the distinction of being elected as the first woman graduate of Harvard College to serve as President of the Harvard Alumni Association, Worldwide. The author lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Visit Ciji's website at www.cijiware.com; her Facebook page: Ciji Ware, Novelist
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Ciji-W

Product Description

Review

For her sixth novel (after A Light on the Veranda), Ware returns to historicals with an unlikely romance framed around San Francisco's devastating earthquake of 1906. New architect Amelia Bradshaw returns to the city to claim what's left of the Bay View, her grandfather's hotel next to Chinatown, only to find that her drunkard father has lost it to J.D. Thayer in a poker game. After an unsuccessful court battle--at a time when women had no right of possession--Bradshaw takes a job as junior architect under Julia Morgan, the first licensed female architect in California history. When Morgan's firm is selected to rebuild the Bay View, along with its competitor, the Fairmont, Bradshaw is put in charge of the former, forcing her to work closely with Mr. Thayer, her adversary, who is determined to beat the anniversary of the quake and the opening of the Fairmont. In time, Bradshaw and Thayer learn that they have more in common than they think, and Bradshaw grows close to some of the Chinese workers, giving Ware a chance to chronicle the despair faced by that community during the disaster. --Publishers Weekly 14.02.11

About the Author

Ciji Ware has been an Emmy-Award winning television producer, reporter, writer, lecturer, and radio host. A Harvard graduate in history, she has written numerous fiction and non-fiction books, including the award-winning Island of the Swans. She and her husband of three decades live in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read 18 Jun 2011
Format:Paperback
I really enjoyed reading this book and couldn't put it down. It was refreshing to come across a woman of that period who actually worked and did not rely on her charms, who is strong, intelligent and can stand up for herself. Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A quick, fun read 29 April 2011
By Misfit TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
San Francisco, 1906. Amelia Bradshaw returns home from her architectural studies in Paris only to find her beloved grandfather dead and the family's grand hotel on Nob Hill lost by her drunken fool of a father during a game of cards. Amelia loses her legal battle with the winner of the card game, J.D. Thayer, and takes employment with her mentor, architect Julia Morgan. And just who is Julia Morgan do you ask? You can read about her on the net, but her most famous project is the little house that Julia built for William Randolph Hearst.

The big earthquake hits and events take a bit of a turn for Amelia. What wasn't destroyed in the earthquake burned during the subsequent fires and that includes her beloved Bay View Hotel. Julia's firm is hired to restore the Fairmont Hotel, as well as the Bay View and the race is on to restore both hotels to their full splendor so that they can reopen on the first anniversary of the disaster. Despite their past differences, Amelia and J.D. work together towards the common goal of restoring the Bay View, but they are beset from all sides by corrupt government, graft, shady labor organizations and other evil baddies who want the hotel for their own. And what about her father? Is it possible he had the poker hand of a lifetime and won it all back the moment the earth shook? If so, can she find the missing cards and wrest ownership of the Bay View away from J.D. Thayer? Will Amelia and J.D. ever stop dancing around each other and realize there's some serious chemistry there?

I'm not telling. Despite a few quibbles towards the end, I really did enjoy this a lot and blew through it quite quickly. The architectural details and building challenges might bore some readers, but I found them fascinating.
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3.0 out of 5 stars It was okay but not much more 23 Mar 2014
Format:Paperback
Amelia Bradshaw has comes to San Francisco to face JD Thayer a man who is trying to take over her Grandfather's hotel. After a losing the court case Amelia is able to find a job with Julia Morgan, the first female architect in the state of California. But then the earthquake of 1906 and the Bay View is destroyed and Amelia finds herself in the position of helping to rebuild it. But it will be a challenge to make that happen.
"A Race to Splendor" by Ciji Ware was an okay book. At times it felt like the book was dragging and I did have to force myself to stick with the book. The characters were not that interesting and seem to lacked depth. Overall "A Race to Splendor" was an okay book but will not be staying on my shelf.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  91 reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I liked it. 18 Feb 2013
By Colleen Bontrager - Published on Amazon.com
I rated this book a 3 stars. But in reality, it's more like 3.5 starts. I liked this book, but I didn't love it and I'll tell you why. In my opinion, it was about 100 pages too long. I felt that Ware did a fantastic job with imagery but tended to be a bit redundant in it. I felt like things were explained and then the same things were being explained in yet in the same or a different way on the next page or the next chapter.

But remember, I did say that I liked it. I knew almost nothing about the 1906 earthquake so I had nothing to compare it to. It was compelling from the first chapter, got slow in the middle, and picked up again in the end. I love a good Historical Fiction with a little romance, so "who done it" type of mystery, disasters and triumphs. All in all, I felt as if Ware did a good job and it was an enjoying read.

Overall, I give this book a C+/B-
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A quick, fun read 24 Mar 2011
By Misfit - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
San Francisco, 1906. Amelia Bradshaw returns home from her architectural studies in Paris only to find her beloved grandfather dead and the family's grand hotel on Nob Hill lost by her drunken fool of a father during a game of cards. Amelia loses her legal battle with the winner of the card game, J.D. Thayer, and takes employment with her mentor, architect Julia Morgan. And just who is Julia Morgan do you ask? You can read about her on the net, but her most famous project is the little house that Julia built for William Randolph Hearst.

The big earthquake hits and events take a bit of a turn for Amelia. What wasn't destroyed in the earthquake burned during the subsequent fires and that includes her beloved Bay View Hotel. Julia's firm is hired to restore the Fairmont Hotel, as well as the Bay View and the race is on to restore both hotels to their full splendor so that they can reopen on the first anniversary of the disaster. Despite their past differences, Amelia and J.D. work together towards the common goal of restoring the Bay View, but they are beset from all sides by corrupt government, graft, shady labor organizations and other evil baddies who want the hotel for their own. And what about her father? Is it possible he had the poker hand of a lifetime and won it all back the moment the earth shook? If so, can she find the missing cards and wrest ownership of the Bay View away from J.D. Thayer? Will Amelia and J.D. ever stop dancing around each other and realize there's some serious chemistry there?

I'm not telling. Despite a few quibbles towards the end, I really did enjoy this a lot and blew through it quite quickly. The architectural details and building challenges might bore some readers, but I found them fascinating. I really liked the character of Amelia, she was strong, intelligent and assertive without that annoying I Am Woman Hear Me Roar attitude you can get from some heroines. How nice that she could intelligently assert her independence and make wise choices in the face of danger instead of stupidly rushing out in the middle of night, thus requiring constant rescue by the hero :)

I found it very refreshing to learn that men found Amelia attractive without heaving bosoms or ripped bodices, as well as seeing the conflicts between the pair without the done to death trope of instant passion and loathing anytime a pair is in a room together. Another big thumbs up to Ms. Ware for writing well-rounded baddies and showing us why they're bad instead of telling us with snarling lips, stinking breath and feral smiles. As for the quibbles? IMHO things fell apart just a tad at the end, when all of a sudden it's time for the book to end and several pages of exposition are needed to wrap up the loose ends. Still, I enjoyed this overall and one I would heartily recommend to others, especially those interested in San Francisco history.

FTC disclosure, I received an advance copy from the publisher.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I want to read more by her 3 April 2011
By Blodeuedd - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
My thoughts:

This was my first book by Ware and I certainly hope it will not be my last because it was a good one. It's set against the backdrop of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and the fires that destroyed much of the city. Early on tragedy strikes and then we get to see how the city is rebuilt. Or should we say how two hotels are rebuilt.

Ware took the real historical character of Julia Morgan and let her finish her Fairmont hotel, and then she created the main character and let her work for Julia on another site. And it was not easy being a female architect at a time like this. But Amelia, the heroine, knows what she wants and this is it. She goes for it, and she works hard and she does not let any man put her down. I liked and respected her. The hero on the other hand was a scoundrel (I just have to use that world cos I love it). She feels that he stole the hotel from her family, that he uses prostitutes at his club, and that he is a lowlife. But then there is more to J.D.Thayer than meets the eye. I have the same concerns at first, I never dislike him though, I was just wary of him. But little by little the real person behind is revealed, and I fall for him just as Amelia unwillingly does.

There is so much more to this book than the building of the hotel and a slowly growing romance. There is an insight into the conditions of the Chinese, women kidnapped and forced to become prostitutes, and the how bad the whole population was treated. There is also the plot where the bad guy wants to destroy what Thayer is working for, one way or another.

Conclusion:

A great historical novel set against an interesting time that I have not read much about, I also found it interesting that women could be architects at that time and was hired (even if it only was J Morgan.) This is a book that I would recommend to fans of historical fiction, and to the rest of you too. It has romance, suspense, and backstabbing.

Rating:

I am going to read more by this author. A great story.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars San Fran 19 April 2013
By Jody M Clark - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Ware presents an interesting view of San Fransisco history. However, although I enjoyed her characters and the story she creates around them, I found parts of it bogged down in repetitive detail.
13 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not much there. 8 Dec 2011
By SSB - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a vapid romance that is supposedly rich in history. There was not much history there other than the earthquake and fire, which we already knew had happened. I certainly would have liked more information about San Francisco's culture. There is some architectural detail but it is skimpy. The problem is it is a romance written under the cover of a historical novel. The characters were very shallowly drawn and very predictable. I like some of Ware's books but this one is just awful.
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