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Ramona by Helen Hunt Jackson
By: (1830-1885)

Set in Old California in the wake of the Mexican-American War, Ramona is two stories at once. It is the story of the love between a part-Native American orphan girl, Ramona, and Alessandro, a young Indian sheepherder. It is also the story of racial prejudice and the clash between cultures as California changes from a Spanish colony to an American territory. Ramona is the ward of Señora Gonzaga Moreno, who despises the girl for her race but honors the dying wish of the Señora's sister, Ramona's foster-mother, to raise her as her own. Señora Moreno embodies the aloof arrogance of Spanish nobility, hating both the Americans who dispute her claim to her vast rancho, and the Indians, whom she places in the same social class with slaves. Her only semblance of love is reserved for her son Felipe.

Despite the Señora's machinations, Ramona and Alessandro fall in love, and eventually elope. But their life together is not an easy one, as they roam the Southern California searching for a home. Their many hardships cannot dull their love for one another, but they soon take a toll that changes their lives forever. (Introduction by Christine Dufour)

First Page:


By Helen Hunt Jackson


IT was sheep shearing time in Southern California, but sheep shearing was late at the Senora Moreno's. The Fates had seemed to combine to put it off. In the first place, Felipe Moreno had been ill. He was the Senora's eldest son, and since his father's death had been at the head of his mother's house. Without him, nothing could be done on the ranch, the Senora thought. It had been always, "Ask Senor Felipe," "Go to Senor Felipe," "Senor Felipe will attend to it," ever since Felipe had had the dawning of a beard on his handsome face.

In truth, it was not Felipe, but the Senora, who really decided all questions from greatest to least, and managed everything on the place, from the sheep pastures to the artichoke patch; but nobody except the Senora herself knew this. An exceedingly clever woman for her day and generation was Senora Gonzaga Moreno, as for that matter, exceedingly clever for any day and generation; but exceptionally clever for the day and generation to which she belonged. Her life, the mere surface of it, if it had been written, would have made a romance, to grow hot and cold over: sixty years of the best of old Spain, and the wildest of New Spain, Bay of Biscay, Gulf of Mexico, Pacific Ocean, the waves of them all had tossed destinies for the Senora... Continue reading book >>

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Reviews (Rated: 3 Stars - 1 review)

Reviewer: - December 18, 2012
Subject: Story 4 stars, readers 1-4 stars.
This was a good story. It's beautifully written, and well worth reading, although it does meander a little at the end. I would have rated it 4 stars if it weren't for some of the readers who range from very good to poor. I found the first reader so difficult to understand, I read the first few chapters on Project Gutenberg, rather than listen to her. She has a very heavy accent and reads very quickly, which is not an enjoyable experience. She doesn't read again until the very end of the book, where she reappears to read another couple of chapters. Unfortunately, she is not the only reader that's hard to take in this particular recording. I appreciate all these volunteers and the time they took to do this, but some of them really butchered their chapters. If this is the only way you are going to encounter this great book, then I would recommend you go ahead and listen- the majority of the readers are good. If you think you're going to go out and get a copy to read, I'd recommend that over this recording.

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