The Blossom Festival chronicles rural life in the Santa Clara Valley during the decades leading up to World War II. Against the lush backdrop of millions of fruit trees unfold the personal dramas of a fascinating cast of characters. This leisurely read explores the complex relationships between parents and children in the context of a rich California region bent on replacing agriculture with computer chips to become Silicon Valley.
The Garden of the World
Lawrence Coates University of Nevada Press, 2012 Library of Congress PS3553.O153G37 2012 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
California’s Santa Clara Valley was once home to a vigorous wine industry. The Garden of the World is the tale of a pioneer winemaking family headed by Paul Tourneau, a fiercely ambitious vintner determined to make the finest wines in California. His plans are disrupted by a phylloxera epidemic at the beginning of the twentieth century, the trials of national Prohibition, and the bitter alienation of his older son. Played out against the vividly depicted seasonal rhythms of vineyard life, this is a moving saga of betrayal, loss, and the harsh consequences of unbreakable ambition.
The Goodbye House
Lawrence Coates University of Nevada Press, 2015 Library of Congress PS3553.O153G66 2015 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
In the aftermath of the early 2000s dot-com bust, the people of San Jose, California face a changing landscape of lost dreams and careers gone awry. It’s in this setting that Katherine Watson, a forty-seven-year-old event planner and mother of two, moves back into her childhood home with her teenage son, Carter. They live with her aging father, who is undergoing palliative care for prostate cancer. Katherine’s husband, Scott, has gone missing after his risky investments failed and they were forced to sell their dream home.
In this multigenerational family story, Katherine, Carter, and Scott all try to navigate an evolving world in the Golden State that doesn’t seem quite so golden any longer. Scott returns and hopes to restore and recreate their past happiness, Katherine contemplates divorce and explores new love along the way, and Carter works to find a place for himself in a new school among classmates who are hostile to him.
The characters fervently chase their dreams across Silicon Valley and beyond, from the gleaming office parks of Cupertino to a self-help seminar on the Las Vegas Strip and an underfunded high school theater production of The Tempest. The one element tying them all together is the house of the title, a 1950s tract home that once represented happiness and now holds the family close in its protective embrace, until, in the end, even this constant changes.
This comic novel, by the author of The Blossom Festival, is set in Mexican California in 1842 and is based on a true story of mistaken conquest. When Commodore Jones and the crew of the National Intention land in Monterey believing themselves to be bringing freedom and democracy to the benighted Californios, they discover that history has preceded them, that cruelty, betrayal, greed, and lust are already well established there, and that far from existing outside of history, California is a battleground for several contending versions of the past. They also find that their own limitations and illusions are far more powerful than the message of hope that they intend to deliver.