POWER AND GLORY by Robert Easton


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A tedious and turgid saga of California in the mid-19th century, sequel to Easton's This Promised Land (1982). It's 1853, and San Francisco's docks are bustling with activity. Newly arrived by ship from New Orleans are one Madame St. Clair and 18-year-old David Venable. St. Clair is there to become the cook of wealthy California businessman Eliot Sedley; in reality, she's Mary Louise Jackson, who used to help run the Underground Railway for escaped slaves. Venable has come west to "see the elephant," i.e., have adventures, but he becomes a disciple of Mary Louise's, and together they form an abolitionist movement in California. In the meantime, Senora Clara Boneau--featured in This Promised Land--is still alive, although pushing 100, and running a brood of Spanish-Indian-Americans on a hacienda in Southern California. But Easton is far less interested in characterization than in history and politics (the novel is even footnoted) and thus writes at great length about California Indian resistance, gold, local politics, and, especially, pre-Civil War intrique and plotting to keep California in (or out) of the Union. Even the token appearance of the real-life famous ("David could not help smiling at Lincoln's droll manner") can't keep this from developing the tone of a centennial brochure. Solid but extremely slow.

Pub Date: April 30th, 1989
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