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The Phoenix Crown - two authors provide one rich, riveting historical novel.

The setting is San Francisco in 1906 - only days before the earthquake that devastated the city. Gemma Garland has just arrived and is about to make her debut as a soprano singing in the chorus of the New York Metropolitan Opera's traveling company, which is to feature Enrico Caruso. She arrives a few days early to see her friend, an artist, who has disappeared. Gemma meets wealthy Henry Thorton who takes an interest in her career and perhaps more. His Nob Hill home is filled with antiquities including an ornate, shimmering, iridescent, electric blue jeweled crown from the Old Summer Palace in Beijing - a phoenix crown made for an empress. Emma meets Suling Feng, a talented embroiderer who has been hired by Thorton to repair a valuable damaged robe from Beijing. Suling is working to escape an arranged marriage and is heartbroken as her lover Reggie has disappeared. As the massive earthquake approaches, the lives of these women will also be changed forever as they learn the truth about the people around them and the ones who have disappeared.


Authors Kate Quinn and Janie Chang have combined their talents to create one rich and riveting historical novel. The Phoenix Crown brings to life San Francisco's gilded age. The opulence, the grandeur as well as the unfortunate racism towards the Chinese people. In addition to Caruso, other real characters are incorporated into the story including Alice Eastwood, curator of the California Academy of Sciences. You might find yourself googling real imperial crowns from ancient China. This was a relatively light, fast-paced read which was very satisfying.


Rated 4.25 out of 5 stars.

Historical Fiction.

Publication Date: February 13, 2024.


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