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Calico Palace

4.14 of 5 stars 4.14  ·  rating details  ·  828 ratings  ·  92 reviews
Sprawling saga of the California Gold Rush, one of the most spectacular adventures in history. In just three years, San Francisco would grow from a muddy village to a rich, brawling city. Calico Palace is the story of those who found love and joy, fury and fortunes in the frenzied days of gold fever.
Paperback, 580 pages
Published June 1st 1971 by Pocket (first published January 1st 1970)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,426)
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Diane Lynn
Excellent story on the California gold rush and growth of San Francisco 1848-1851.

As the story begins, Kendra Logan is sailing to San Francisco onboard the Cynthia. She is traveling with her mother Eva. They are going to meet up with Eva’s husband, Colonel Alexander Taine who has been posted to San Francisco. The year is 1848. Kendra has spent her life feeling unwanted and has grown up feeling she doesn’t belong. There are not many women in San Francisco at this time, it really is just a small s...more
Misfit
This author brings the gold rush and San Francisco to life. I actually owned this book in the 70's (and loved it). I have no idea why I gave it away, as now I had to buy another used copy. Hope I didn't buy my own back again!

This is a book about Kendra, who with her mother and step father came to San Francisco right before the start of the gold rush. Kendra was an unwanted child, and she soon finds the man of her dreams, marries him and they are off to the gold country. Among the group they are...more
Tweety
Sep 25, 2014 Tweety rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone who enjoys the gold rush and the people who came before it
Recommended to Tweety by: Misfit
4 1/2


I'm a bit torn with this one, I loved Jubilee Trail for its adventure and it's characters. This book was just as good and as much as I hate to be disloyal to Jubilee Trail, I do think this book wrapped up better. I loved getting to know the background story to the characters. I liked Marny, Kendra, Hiram, Pocket, Lauren and yes, even Ted slightly. But most of all I loved the cat, she was five stars without question.

If Kendra was slightly gullible then I must be too, because both of us were...more
Doris Eyanson
I just pulled this one out of my garage for a reread. I forgot what a great book it was. I love historical fiction and love how clean the old authors used to write. This one is about the trek from the East to settle California--the first time I read it I had no idea the Cajon Pass was a real place--it was fun to read again with new eyes!
oops-looks like I mixed up her books--Jubilee trail is about the settling of the LA area--this one is about San Francisco in the early years. Both were excellent...more
Jessica
This book was actually written before I was even born; I know, I know, they made books that long ago! I was talking to one of my library friends and she recommended it saying it was an oldie, but a goodie if you like historical fiction. Although the cover made me think "romance" novel, which isn't really my cup of tea, I went ahead and gave it a try. And while there were some romantic story lines, this book is not what I would classify as romance. The book was well written, the story did take so...more
Jenny
I haven't read a decent historical in... a long time. It was a little difficult to get into the swing of the novel, probably because it had been described to me as a romance--which it really wasn't--so I wasn't expecting the plot to unfold the way it did, or the writing itself, in truth. I suppose Calico Palace could be described as a romance, in that the two main female characters (and just about everyone else, it seems) end up married by the end, but it certainly doesn't read like a romance.

S...more
Mary
Nov 28, 2009 Mary rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Mary by: wanted to read more from this author after Jubilee Trail
I loved reading about early San Francisco and the changes made by the wealth pouring in from the gold fields. A hundred years later I saw many of the unique features mentioned in the book and another forty years haven't taken away the romance and have added more. One of the great cities of the world, only the hardiest and bravest arrived at its waterfront and from across the mountains and the prairies in those days. The story of some of these individuals give more life and flavor to the already...more
Linda
3.5 stars rounded up to 4

This is one time I am strongly suggesting not to be put off by the original publication date or the book cover. CALICO PALACE is a richly descriptive historical fiction taking place in 1849 and beyond during the gold rush in California.

The Mexican-American War had ended leaving California in the hands of the United States. Unbeknownst to most people flakes of gold were found in the American River at the base of the Sierra Nevada Mountains near Coloma. Throughout 1849, p...more
Misfit
This author brings the gold rush and San Francisco to life. I actually owned this book in the 70's (and loved it). I have no idea why I gave it away, as now I had to buy another used copy. Hope I didn't buy my own back again!

This is a book about Kendra, who with her mother and step father came to San Francisco right before the start of the gold rush. Kendra was an unwanted child, and she soon finds the man of her dreams, marries him and they are off to the gold country. Among the group they are...more
Janice
So far I am really liking this book. I loved it!!!

This story of the California gold rush is not about the forty-niners, the prospectors who came rushing to the San Francisco area in 1849, but about the men and women who were there when it all began with the first discovery of gold in 1848, when San Francisco was a village of 900 people. These were the people who went up to the hills and came back staggering under the weight of the treasure they carried, and who began transforming San Francisco f...more
Cheryl Hughes
My mom recommended this book to me when I was about 12 or 13. I loved the characters and it was such a great way to learn the history of the fascinating city of San Francisco! This is the book that made me realize how much I loved history and it's much more fun to learn it when you have an engaging story. It just makes it feel more real!
Meaghan
Oct 11, 2009 Meaghan rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Meaghan by: CRP
This book got me obsessed with the gold rush. A great historical novel for anyone who is interested in city development and sociology. I wasn't too enthused when I started reading it (for work), but MAN I got into it and went so far as to reserve a PBS gold rush documentary at the library to fill in the gaps. An easy read, cheesy at times, and something I wish I'd read in junior high/high school. The romance is chaste/tame and the "bad girl with a heart of gold" theme rocks my world.
Dawn (& Ron)
How fitting that I found this book on our first to CA, in a bookstore named the Bookery, near the 100+ year old Cary House hotel we stayed at, in the old mining town of Placerville, CA. And our trip ended in San Francisco! This will only add to the read for me!
Kim
My mom had this book and as I read this book as a teenager, I thought it was exciting and a bit racy! It still is a good read and will always be one I remember from my childhood.
Patricia Zammett
First book I read as a teenager given to me by my grandma, Margaret Molloy Daratt. This is when I fell in love with reading.
Mike Smith
Calico Palace reminded me of Mrs. Mike, a period tale of Western adventure, largely from a young woman's perspective. Though I enjoyed reading about characters criss-crossing the area we live in, I found the characters harder to relate to than Mrs. Mike. I couldn't get away from the nagging feeling that this story felt voyeuristic compared to other historical fiction. Maybe if I felt more antagonistic towards the world around me, I would have appreciated this more - On the Road created a similar...more
Kristen
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
John Hubenthal
I mostly found it to be ok. It was interesting enough, contemplating that time period and the earlier years in the development of San Francisco, to which I've never been. I did particularly enjoy a chapter, about 61 or so, where two characters find sympathy and understanding on a very profound level, and I was touched. I was surprised at what the title came to refer to in the book, and I had a hard time caring about anything that happened to that building, as it's no place I'd ever visit!
Having...more
Nicole
May 18, 2008 Nicole rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No one
Recommended to Nicole by: Amazon.com
Things I liked about this book: It was set in Sacramento and San Francisco in the 1840's and there was SOME interesting tidbits about how these towns looked in that era.

Things I didn't like about this book: it was way too long (589 pages). It included very long boring details about what the main character, Kendra cooks for dinner and scurvy. Half way through the book, Kendra kind of sizzles out and suddenly the story is told through someone else's eyes (Kendra isn't even mentioned in the last 20...more
Kate Quinn
This book is Gwen Bristow's nominal sequel to "Jubilee Trail" - that is, it features different characters, but is set in the 1848 California Gold Rush, which is just where Jubilee Trail left off. Many of the characters are similar to Jubilee Trail's - Kendra, a well-bred girl who marries a Gold Rush explorer and goes adventurer; Marny, the sassy card shark who is her best friend. I have to say the characters are not quite as compelling as Jubilee Trail's but there is still no better portrait of...more
LemonLinda
This was another great comfort read for me from a great HF writer with great characters. It begins as one of these characters is traveling to San Francisco just prior to the discovery of gold in 1848 and continues through the discovery, the first miners, the rush, the exponential growth of San Francisco and the fires, accidental and otherwise as the new city explodes with more and more people determined to strike it rich one way or another. It is often billed as a historical romance and yes, tha...more
Vivian
As a 5th generation native Californian this historical novel held special interest to me. My dad's great grandparents herald the beckoning call of "gold" and stayed to raise their families.
Cynthia Etheredge
I read this book years ago, when I was a teenager, and a couple of months rediscovered it, and bought it. I love this story, it set in San Francisco, just before, during, and after the gold rush, and it is so well-written. It focuses on Kendra, the well-brought up young woman, and Marny, a beautiful, shrewd gambler, who meet on the way to the gold fields, and ends up having a life-long friendship. They go through many trials, especially Kendra, who has a beautiful, enduring soul, and the men and...more
Faye
One of my favorites of all time. Have read many times starting in my teens. An innocent funny historical romance that I'm proud to let my teen read.
Sharon Delarose
It starts out like a romance novel, but once they arrive in California it quickly changes into a fascinating account of life in California during the Gold Rush. While Kendra was the "main" character, my favorite was the character of Marny, the card-dealing vixen of the Calico Palace.

I bought this book from the bargain bin of a bookstore back in the 80's, and the story was memorable enough to keep the book all these 25 years. I recently re-read it.

If you want to live in the world of the Californi...more
Jo Sandgren
one of my favorite books of all time...early San Francisco stories
Sandra
Read this years ago, and read it again and again. I love it!
Gretchen
This is a story about some people who settle in San Francisco right before the gold rush. They go prospecting for the first season and then settle in the city and watch it grow. Two women are the main characters, Kendra and Marny. Marny is good at cards and is a dealer in her gambling parlor, the Calico Palace. Kendra bakes snacks to sell there. They and their friends live through all the fires, dangers, and harsh weather to survive and prosper in the new city.
Judy
I truly loved this book. The story of San Francisco during the Gold Rush, with endearing characters of mixed goodness, was well written. It was populated with people who I wanted to follow for many more years. I tried to drag out my reading it because I didn't want it to end. Yet, I wanted to find out what happens with each of them. The research the author did to make it all so "real" impressed me. I intend to read more by this author.

Pat
I very much enjoyed this book. The characters were interesting,though in many ways "standard" for an historical romance. The setting, San Francisco and the gold fields at the beginning of the Gold Rush, was fascinating. Ms. Bristow's descriptions of the buildings and landscape gave me a much better understanding of that tumultuous time. I feel I learned a lot of history while reading of the trials and tribulations of Kendra and Marny.
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American author and journalist. She studied at Columbia University and afterwards wrote for a number of literary magazines and journals. Eventually she moved to New Orleans, and worked at the Times-Picayune. She became interested in longer forms of writing—novels and short stories—through her husband, screenwriter Bruce Manning, and published her first novel in 1929.

Bristow reached the pinnacle o...more
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“Love and hate, Miss Kendra, are not two opposite things. They're like the front of your hand and the back of it, Two sides of the same thing. They both mean, this person matters to me.” 2 likes
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