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The Trembling Hills

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  1,289 ratings  ·  56 reviews
Sara's childhood has been haunted by dreams of a candlelit figure glimpsed in a mirror. She now decides to follow her true love, Ritchie Temple, to San Francisco. But Sara could not know about the terrors that were in store for her.

When lovely young Sara Jerome moves to San Francisco, she is filled with anticipation. Not only does the man she has loved since childhood live
Published June 1956 by Prentice Hall (first published 1956)
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Average rating 3.93  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,289 ratings  ·  56 reviews

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Sep 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to finish this in one sitting. It was that good. What I enjoyed about the story the most, was how Whitney tied the San Francisco fire into the narrative.

Also, I am a bit of a sucker for Gothic novels.
Jul 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: before-2012
I set the scene about character tested in the most epic manner possible. Phyllis's classic entails: a missing Father, outcast Grandmother, and a recurring dream so strong... it may be a real memory.

Sara and her Mom join an old friend in San Francisco, USA. All her life she has tried to solve a childhood nightmare that ends before it shows the conclusion. Encountering her birth home in this city, she thinks she might be able to trigger the whole dream to play out. But it is April 1906 and disaste
Christine PNW
This one was just all right - the suspense/gothic part of the book is very limited and only really appears at the very end of the book. I liked the main character, and the setting - during the 1906 earthquake & fire, was interesting, but the actual gothic part of "gothic romance" was seriously lacking.

This cover is awesomesauce, though.
Terri Edwards
Sep 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Another Whitney winner! Such a wonderful author, with a sense of place and atmosphere and a smooth, flowing writing style. Whitney made writing seem effortless!
Mike Garzillo
Oct 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: gothic-romances
A great San Francisco Gothic romance set before and after the 1908 earthquake and fire. Her insight into the insurance industry and its role in the drama is unique. She turns The City's mood into a character. If you're into Gothic romances and/or San Francisco you should read this one.
Jun 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This was my very first Phyllis Whitney novel and is still probably my favorite. I've always been a sucker for historical fiction. She only did a few in that genre. Most of them are contemporary romantic mysteries. Still, I believe I've read and enjoyed everything she's written.
Jun 25, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
More than anything else I've read, fiction or non, this made me feel the most like I was actually there for "the big one." The quake, rather than being just the backdrop, is actually a character. Odd, frightening, but a very vivid -- and, all in all-- likable book.
Lady Delacour
1906 Crank Car
takes us on a
slow curvy ride.
Speed ramps up
as family turmoil
continues to build.
Is there more than
one dire Earthquake
on the distant Horizon?
3 Drama Filled Stars.
Listened with TTS.
Clean Story..
Apr 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I love the great Phyllis Whitney. I have read some of her books many times, this one included. Often I get tired of a genre and I just need something different to read and I grab one of her novels. This one is set in San Francisco during the 1906 earthquake and fire. Her descriptions of these events are so intense that you feel like you are there. Excellent story.
Jun 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
More mystery then romance... It was the story surrounding the grandmother and what had occurred in the past. I really enjoyed it. This is my first Phyllis Whitney novel, and I will definitely read more...
Jul 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sarah
Not at all like her other books. It was interesting though. I thought I had read this but I realized I hadn't. It's like another of her books about the Earthquake.
Deidra Bowling
Dec 25, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
the book kept me wanting to come back for more. there was always something changing and leaving you hanging I loved it.
Jul 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
kept hoping there would have been a sequel. Once I started reading I could not put it down.
Rena Holcomb
Aug 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-2012
Wonderful story and great writing blend with history of San Francisco in 1906. Thought I had read all of Whitney's book years ago, but turns out, I had not.
Allie Donovan
Sep 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rounded up from 3.5 stars. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and would recommend, but I must admit the ending to the storyline with Hester Varaday/Geneva/Leland felt unsatisfying to me. I did admire Sara's growth, although her thoughts near the end about how she must serve Nick first (while he poured every part of himself into the insurance business) did take me out of the story for a moment so I could roll my eyes. Parts of the book are very dated, I must also admit.
Mary Claire
A somewhat better than average romantic suspense story, set during the San Francisco fire, in which Sara grows from girl to young woman and finds who she really is and what's important in her life.
I didn't love this but the author's writing made it readable and kept my interest even though I knew where it was heading.
May 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thoroughly enjoyable!

Set in San Francisco during the Great Quake, this is a story of how personal experiences change how we perceive our lives. Sarah is the main character who learns that prestige and having the finer things in life aren’t as important as they seemed. Nice story from beginning to end.
Jan 30, 2013 rated it liked it
This was the last book that I wrote down as having read in 1969. I'm sure I read
many more books that year but I must have gotten too busy to write them down after this one.
I don't remember the book but I was definitely into romantic suspense along the lines of
Phyllis Whitney, Mary Stewart and Dorothy Eden. However, looking back, my favorite of these
authors was definitely Daphne du Maurier.
This was so bad I can’t figure out how to rate it. The writing was juvenile (I don’t think it’s YA), the heroine was really immature for her age and there was way too much navel gazing and soul searching and agonizing over Ritchie. I ended up skipping around to figure out the plot.

Extra negative points for the racism.

No rating because I didn’t finish it but I didn’t finish it because it was bad. Dilemma.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Rachel Clifton
it was good...but i don't know...i was just expecting something different when i picked the book up.
Aug 08, 2012 rated it liked it
Phyllis Whitney is always enchanting for me. Her mysteries are not deep, but they do resonate. It kept me turning the pages and took me to another America, a new America. Very pleasant read.
Mary DiGrazio
Jan 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is my all time favorite Phyllis Whitney book. I can't tell you how many times I've read it because it is a book I get in the mood to read nearly every fall since I was a teenager.

Julie Martin
This was the book that got me hooked on Phyllis A Whitneyand the first one of hers I read it is still one of my favourites!
Diana McMinn
Aug 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
not my favorite but still very good!!!!
Aug 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Sara's childhood has been haunted by dreams of a candlelit figure glimpsed in a mirror. She now decides to follow her true love, Ritchie Temple, to San Francisco. But Sara could not know about the terrors that were in store for her.

When lovely young Sara Jerome moves to San Francisco, she is filled with anticipation. Not only does the man she has loved since childhood live there, but her father, who left mysteriously so many years ago, came from San Francisco. She feels certain that now she will
I have no idea how long this book had been on my shelves. It was first published in 1956 and I needed it for a reading challenge and so was happy to have it so easily accessible. Unfortunately, the poor book disintegrated as I was reading it...I'm glad it didn't turn out to be a favorite!!! The book was fine and I was never bored with it but it just seemed to be rather formulaic. I particularly enjoyed the historic portions that talked about San Francisco at the time of the earthquake and fire t ...more
Elizabeth Barter
Feb 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is what it is , a historical romance, with a secret tragedy . Phyllis A. Whitney had been a dancer and began to write after she had her daughter, her books always made my Mom smile . To her credit , her novels were always well researched before she ut ink to the page. 'The Trembling Hills ' was no different , it was a joy to read . '
Phyllis A. Witney is the writer who helped me develope a life long love of reading . She also inspired my hobby of writing stories. If you like a little Romantic
This was a lot better than the one other Phyllis Whitney book I read, though it still didn't...really thrill me. The writing and the historical setting were generally pretty good—the scenes depicting the San Francisco earthquake and fire itself were probably the most interesting—yet the characters and their relationships all seemed rather by-the-numbers, never really coming alive as living, interesting people for me. And the solution to the mystery part includes some pretty Gothic-cliche element ...more
Aug 18, 2017 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this return to one of my favorite genres. However, I thought it could have used more suspense throughout, rather than just at the end. I thought some of the final occurrences were a little too contrived, and I'm not sure that the protagonist made reasonable choices. Glad to have read it, not the best I've read. Language, especially Ah Foong and his dialogue, a bit dated and borderline offensive.
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Phyllis Ayame Whitney (1903 – 2008) was an American mystery writer. Rare for her genre, she wrote mysteries for both the juvenile and the adult markets, many of which feature exotic locations. A review in The New York Times once dubbed her "The Queen of the American Gothics".

She was born in Japan to American parents and spent her early years in Asia. Whitney wrote more than seventy novels. In 1961

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