Vera: A Novel (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

The San Francisco earthquake of 1906 like you’ve never experienced it-- from inside the family of one of the most famous Madams of a brothel. Lyrical writing, a cast of unforgettable characters both real and imagined and the story of love, rejection, graft and economic disparity sprinkled with racism, misogyny, and the lives of strong women who rule the roost. You won’t be able to visit the City on the Bay ever again without looking for Rose and her descendants. I couldn’t put this down.  — From Gayle's Picks (page 1)


A sweeping and richly captivating novel about an indomitable heroine coming of age in the aftermath of catastrophe, and her quest for love and reinvention—from the acclaimed New York Times bestselling author of Three Stages of Amazement.

Scrappy fifteen-year-old Vera Johnson—illegitimate daughter of Rose, the notorious proprietor of San Francisco’s ritziest bordello and ally to the city’s corrupt politicians—narrowly survives the devastating 1906 earthquake. Relying on her wit and determination, Vera and her unlikely new family of survivors navigate a world reborn in the wake of disaster.

In Vera, Carol Edgarian creates a panoramic and deeply compassionate world where notions of honor, survival, and love are tested, and grace is hard-won. Vera celebrates the bold resilience its heroine bears in the face of a disregarding mother and a colorful cohort of liars, thieves, and con artists who would manipulate the teenage girl while her righteous neighbors judge her for her low birth. A ravishing, heartbreaking, and profound affirmation of youth and a testament to a city eternally reimagining itself, Vera’s story brings to life legendary characters—tenor Enrico Caruso, indicted Mayor Eugene Schmitz and boss Abe Ruef, tabloid celebrity and fabled doyenne Alma Spreckels, as well as an unforgettable cast that includes Vera’s young lover, Bobby, protector of the city’s tribe of orphans, and three generations of a Chinese family competing and conspiring with Vera.

Told with unflinching candor and wit, this coming-of-age adventure investigates the nature of sex, power, and the fortitude required to lead, as it charts one tumultuous year in the life of a girl and her city. This tale of improbable outcomes and alliances takes hold from the very first page, gifting readers with remarkable scenes of devastation, renewal, and joy. Edgarian’s Vera is a timeless and timely novel of an indomitable spirit’s quest for love and reinvention in the aftermath of catastrophe.

About the Author

Carol Edgarian is the author of the New York Times bestseller Three Stages of Amazement and the international bestseller Rise the Euphrates, winner of the ANC Freedom Prize. Her articles and essays have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, NPR, and W, among many others. She is cofounder and editor of Narrative, a digital publisher of fiction, poetry, and art, and Narrative in the Schools, which provides free libraries and writing resources to teachers and students around the world. Edgarian lives with her family in San Francisco.

Praise For…

"Vera is a triumph—a story of disaster and healing, power and humility, grit and grace set against the lush, lascivious backdrop of San Francisco during the 1906 earthquake. This book is as whipsmart as its heroine and as electric as her city and will haunt me—in the best way—for a long time to come."
Anna Solomon, author of The Book of V

“Reading about the sudden destruction of a world right in the middle of our own 21st century crisis helped me understand that the question we’re asking now is one we’ve asked before: where do we go from here?  Vera brings to vivid life a historical moment that defined a city, an era. It’s an extraordinary glimpse into the American DNA." 
Mary Beth Keane, author of Ask Again, Yes
Product Details
ISBN: 9781501157523
ISBN-10: 1501157523
Publisher: Scribner
Publication Date: March 2nd, 2021
Pages: 336