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The Californians   By: (1857-1948)

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The Californians by Gertrude Franklin Horn Atherton is a captivating novel that takes readers on a journey through the enchanting landscape of California. Set in the late 19th century, this tale delves into the lives of a group of individuals, both native Californians and recent arrivals, as they navigate the complexities of love, ambition, and social hierarchy.

Atherton's prose paints a vivid picture of the varied landscapes of California, from the bustling streets of San Francisco to the idyllic countryside. Her descriptions immerse readers in the vibrant colors, scents, and sounds of the region, creating a sensory experience that complements the multi-layered plot.

One of the novel's greatest strengths is its exploration of the clash between old and new Californian values. Atherton delves deep into the tensions between those who have inherited wealth and status, and those who have arrived seeking newfound opportunities. Through the eyes of her well-drawn characters, she captures the struggles faced by individuals from different backgrounds as they grapple with societal expectations and strive for personal fulfillment.

The characters themselves are beautifully developed and serve as a microcosm of the society in which they live. The strong-willed heroine, who defies societal norms and pursues her own ambitions, is a refreshing departure from the typical female characters of the time. Atherton's portrayal of her challenges and triumphs adds depth and complexity to the narrative, allowing readers to form a genuine connection with her.

Additionally, the author masterfully weaves romance, intrigue, and suspense throughout the story, keeping readers engaged and eager to uncover the characters' fates. The unexpected twists and turns keep the plot moving at a steady pace, making it difficult to put the book down.

However, despite its strengths, The Californians is not without flaws. At times, the novel can feel weighed down by the author's expository writing style, which occasionally slows the story's momentum. Some readers may also find the extensive descriptions of the region's history and geography excessive, detracting from the main narrative.

Overall, The Californians is a compelling novel that offers a rich and immersive reading experience. Atherton's skillful storytelling, coupled with her nuanced exploration of social dynamics and personal growth, makes this book a worthwhile read for anyone interested in California's history and the universal themes of identity and ambition. Though not without its shortcomings, this novel is a testament to Atherton's talent as a writer and her ability to transport readers to a bygone era.

First Page:

E text prepared by David Clarke, Mary Meehan, and the Project Gutenbertg Online Distributed Proofreading Team ( from digital material generously made available by Internet Archive/American Libraries (

Note: Images of the original pages are available through Internet Archive/American Libraries. See




John Lane: The Bodley Head London and New York 1898

Third Edition University Press, Cambridge, U. S. A.

TO N. L.



"I won't study another word to day!" Helena tipped the table, spilling the books to the floor. "I want to go out in the sun. Go home, Miss Phelps, that's a dear. Anyhow, it won't do you a bit of good to stay."

Miss Phelps, young herself, glanced angrily at her briery charge, longingly at the brilliant blue of sky and bay beyond the long window.

"I leave it to Miss Yorba." Her voice, fashioned to cut, vibrated a little with the vigour of its roots. "You seem to forget, Miss Belmont, that this is not your house."

"But you are just as much my teacher as hers. Besides, I always know what Magdaléna wants, and I know that she has had enough United States history for one afternoon... Continue reading book >>

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