Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Race To Splendor by Ciji Ware

Genre: Historical Fiction
Copyright: 2011
Pages: 544
Book Source: ARC courtesy of Source Books

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.

This was such a fascinating story, delving into the devastating history of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire, the aftermath and recovery. A blend of history and artistic licence laced with suspense, drama, romance, and political corruption giving readers a captivating and moving account.

I knew of the existence of architect Julia Morgan but little else and whilst she didn't inspire my affection in Race to Splendor, Ciji Ware certainly inspired me to read a little more about this historical figure. Quite the opposite of the very likeable Amelia Bradshaw, Ware's fictional creation and Morgan's protegee and eventual competitor in the race to open the Fairmont hotel and JD Thayer's Bay View hotel by the 1st anniversary of the quake.

The Fairmont 1906 - after earthquake & fire

The Fairmont 1907

The chemistry between JD and Amelia is obvious early on but their working and personal relationship is rocky to say the least. Suffice to say there is more to the inscrutable JD than first meets the eye. I enjoyed the architectural details and the challenges facing women proving themselves in a male dominated field. I wasn't aware of the plight of the Chinese at this time, their appalling living and working conditions, and the unaccounted loss of life. Being Australian, Race To Splendor filled in a substantial gap in my knowledge of this particular time in American history and gave me a thirst for more.

My first Ciji Ware novel but definitely not my last; the pages literally turn themselves!

Visit Ciji Ware's website to find out more about this author and her work.


  1. Love this: "the pages literally turn themselves!" It's on my TBR list :)

  2. On my list too. In fact her previous book is still on the list as well.

  3. On my list too. In fact her previous book is still on the list as well.

  4. I picked this one up for 3.98 for my Kindle! I'm so excited to read it and am fascinated by that time period and setting!

  5. I am glad you liked it :) She sure has talent

  6. I've downloaded it on to my Kindle and am looking forward to reading it!

  7. I've not heard of this book before, but it certainly sounds like I'd enjoy it. Great review, thanks :)

  8. I've read all of her older novels and need to get my hands on this one. I've loved all of her other books, so you can't go wrong!

  9. I enjoyed this book as well. It was entertaining reading, and I got a bit of an education into that period. Here's my review:

    You also may enjoy Ciji's A Cottage by the Sea:



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