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A Ward of the Golden Gate   By: (1836-1902)

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A Ward of the Golden Gate is a captivating novel by Bret Harte that plunges readers into the rich tapestry of 19th-century San Francisco. Set amidst the bustling and diverse streets of the city, the story follows the life of a young girl named Maruja, who finds herself caught in a web of familial secrets and political turmoil.

What sets this book apart is Harte's meticulous attention to detail and his ability to transport readers to a bygone era. His vivid descriptions of the vibrant streets of San Francisco, with their mix of various ethnicities and cultures, create a vivid backdrop against which the narrative unfolds. From the foggy alleys of Chinatown to the grand mansions of the city's elite, Harte paints a vivid picture of a city on the cusp of change.

The characters in this novel are also expertly crafted. Maruja, the titular ward, is a strong and resilient protagonist. As the story progresses, readers witness her growth and transformation as she navigates the complexities of her situation. The supporting cast of characters, including the wealthy and enigmatic Captain Carroll and the streetwise detective Barney Cavanagh, add depth and intrigue to the narrative, making the book a truly immersive reading experience.

Harte's writing style is elegant and evocative, capturing the essence of the era with its formalities and societal norms. The author skillfully combines elements of romance, mystery, and historical fiction, seamlessly blending them into a cohesive narrative that keeps readers engaged throughout. The pacing of the story is well-balanced, with just the right amount of suspense and plot twists to keep readers on the edge of their seats.

However, some readers may find the book's length to be slightly daunting, as it could have benefited from some trimming. Additionally, the multiple subplots and intricate details of San Francisco's historical context might overwhelm those looking for a simpler, more straightforward read.

Overall, A Ward of the Golden Gate is a masterful work of historical fiction that transports readers to a captivating era of San Francisco's history. With its richly drawn characters and immersive setting, this book is a must-read for fans of the genre and anyone seeking an engrossing tale of love, secrets, and the pursuit of identity. Bret Harte's keen eye for detail and his ability to weave a complex narrative make this novel a truly memorable read.

First Page:



Bret Harte

JTABLE 5 9 1


In San Francisco the "rainy season" had been making itself a reality to the wondering Eastern immigrant. There were short days of drifting clouds and flying sunshine, and long succeeding nights of incessant downpour, when the rain rattled on the thin shingles or drummed on the resounding zinc of pioneer roofs. The shifting sand dunes on the outskirts were beaten motionless and sodden by the onslaught of consecutive storms; the southeast trades brought the saline breath of the outlying Pacific even to the busy haunts of Commercial and Kearney streets; the low lying Mission road was a quagmire; along the City Front, despite of piles and pier and wharf, the Pacific tides still asserted themselves in mud and ooze as far as Sansome Street; the wooden sidewalks of Clay and Montgomery streets were mere floating bridges or buoyant pontoons superposed on elastic bogs; Battery Street was the Silurian beach of that early period on which tin cans, packing boxes, freight, household furniture, and even the runaway crews of deserted ships had been cast away. There were dangerous and unknown depths in Montgomery Street and on the Plaza, and the wheels of a passing carriage hopelessly mired had to be lifted by the volunteer hands of a half dozen high booted wayfarers, whose wearers were sufficiently content to believe that a woman, a child, or an invalid was behind its closed windows, without troubling themselves or the occupant by looking through the glass... Continue reading book >>

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