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Calico Palace

4.14 of 5 stars 4.14  ·  rating details  ·  1,050 ratings  ·  110 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 1,887)
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Apr 20, 2015 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
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
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
Gwen Bristow's books are so tough, gritty and wonderful. I have enjoyed the two I have read so far and I just got "Celia Garth" in the mail.

I love how she takes bad girls and gives them a heart of gold. Sometimes they even turn out to be more kind that the main character. I appreciate greatly how she gets to me to see people as people, despite their shortcomings.

I actually slowed down my reading of this book, because I wanted it to last. It is really that much fun.

I think it would have been 5
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
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
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.

The true protagonist of this book is the city of San Fransisco and how it was transformed from a village to a big city during 3-4 years. (1848-1850). So many fires and so much rebuilding that I lost count. The descriptions of the fires are accurate ( but in the end they become repetitive. For me that I have never been and probably will never be (and surely not in this time period) in San Fransisco it was very interesting. I preferred Jubilee Trail though.
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
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
Kendra Logan travels with her mother on board the ship Cynthia around Cape Horn to a place called California. There they will join Kendra's stepfather Colonel Taine in a place called San Francisco. No one has ever heard of San Francisco in 1847 and Kendra does not relish going there, for she is not wanted. The crew members are all kind, especially Loren Shields. San Francisco is a muddy, uncivilized place but Kendra enjoys creating meals for her family and friends and the company of Ted Parks, t ...more
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
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
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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!
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
Full review at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books

The book Calico Palace is a romance/historical novel/adventure story that brings the California Gold Rush to vivid life with wonderful characters, a robust sense of humor, some harrowing tragedy (the Gold Rush was not a place for wimps), and a strong message of the importance of building your own family, being emotionally hardy, and seizing the life you want in a forthright way. It’s a powerfully feminist book and while some of the romance comes out of n
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.
It's almost as if, 20 years after her popular Jubilee Trail, Ms. Bristow distilled that book down to a formula and then followed that formula to write this book. A once-proper New England girl goes out west, befriends a floozy with a heart of gold, and their friendship is the core of the book. The main character chooses a marriage that is less than perfect, learns a hard life lesson, and goes on to be independent and single, working at the floozy's floozyish place of business. Only the setting a ...more
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!
Judy Tate
Great! Great! Great! A gorgeous historical novel that has all of the action, adventure, and romance you could want set during the California gold rush in San Francisco. The characters are real and fully developed in the first quarter of the book. Realistic growth changes the characters as they go threw the trials and tribulations of life in the 1840's.
Kendra Logan is an unwanted young woman when she arrives in San Francisco to join her mother and step-father. She doesn't want to be there and th
I read all of Gwen Bristow books as a teen and now re-reading as an adult.

But Calico Palace is still my least favorite. I love Kendra's spirit, to endure all the hardships she had takes a "lot of guts" as Marny would say.

There is just something about Calico that drags on and on after those first few chapters of everyone mining and then moving back to San Francisco. I found myself skipping paragraphs of -- oh, I don't know -- just bulks of words that didn't seem to mean anything to the story.

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.
Mar 24, 2015 Hana marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
California gold rush
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
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!
Jenny Gendel
I ended up staying up way to late trying to finish this book, then waiting for this afternoon to actually finish it. Very good. I can't wait to read more by this author, and in some ways I am sad that her death preceded my birth, but am grateful to have discovered her.
May 18, 2008 Nicole rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No one
Recommended to Nicole by:
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
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
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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
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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.” 4 likes
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