First Lines: Janus, the Roman god of gates and beginnings wore two faces. The Spanish named San Francisco for a saint. The Celestials met their Demons on its streets. Called Golden Mountain by those int he Middle Kingdom, it perched precarious on a cracking plate.
Give me a historical fiction and I am content for days. I love the settings they find for them, especially if I’ve never read about that particular place and time before. Janet Fox is really good about that. Faithful was set in Yosemite in 1904, while Forgiven is in San Francisco in 1906. I believe these were the first times I’ve read about these places/eras.
Kula (a minor character in Faithful) takes the limelight here. In order to save her father’s life, Kula must head to San Francisco to find a box filled with something that will keep him from hanging. Kula doesn’t know what’s waiting for her, in S.F. or the box. Her first day there, she meets David Wong, a Chinaman in the section of the city known as Chinatown. Instantly, she knows there’s something about him that draws her in. But Kula can’t give away her heart until she saves her father…right?
I thought the story was very well written. Kula comes from a life where dresses and riches are important, but not necessary to being able to live life. S.F. is a bit different from that world because now, money means everything. Those who don’t have it are treated like dogs and those that do have it are given privileges beyond Kula’s wildest dreams.
A few things bothered me, though. For one, Kula balances two suitors until she just “decides” that she’s in love with one. It’s like, “Boom! I love him…” Very Bella Swan of her. Also, Kula’s narrative refers to her in the third person. I understand that’s probably Kula’s little tic (she did it when she was trying to psych herself up), but it bothered me to no end.
The story was very complex. It wasn’t just about Kula’s search for the box. It incorporated elements of Chinatown life, wealthy lifestyles, and the Great Earthquake of 1906. That was perhaps one of the most fascinating aspects of the story. In passing, I know about the earthquake. I’ve heard of it. But beyond that, nothing. So being able to see it through Kula’s eyes was great.