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The Silverado Squatters

3.39  ·  Rating details ·  224 ratings  ·  34 reviews
The scene of this little book is on a high mountain. There are, indeed, many higher; there are many of a nobler outline. It is no place of pilgrimage for the summary globe-trotter; but to one who lives upon its sides, Mount Saint Helena soon becomes a center of interest. It is the Mont Blanc of one section of the Californian Coast Range, none of its near neighbors rising t ...more
Paperback, 108 pages
Published September 1st 2005 by Aegypan (first published 1883)
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Average rating 3.39  · 
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 ·  224 ratings  ·  34 reviews

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Scott Cox
This book is somewhat of travel memoir for Robert Louis Stevenson who spent about one year in California before returning to Europe (and ultimately Samoa, where he died & is buried). It is a story of Stevenson and his new bride "squatting" in the abandoned housing of an old mine, the Silverado. The abandoned silver & gold mine is on Mt. Saint Helena near the Napa wine country town of Calistoga. Stevenson describes the natural beauty of the area, providing an entire chapter on looking down upon t ...more
Julie Hacker
Apr 02, 2015 rated it liked it
Honestly I do not believe this story deserves such a low rating as three stars. Nonetheless I have given such an appraisal simply because the story was uninteresting to me.
Robert Louis Stevenson's writing is amazing, and flows with something like a poetic air. However, the tale he wove with these words was less than intriguing.
It took me quite awhile to slog through and I dearly hope I do not have to read it again.
May 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: my-library
Incredibly well written, if not always engaging. More than a story, it is a series of observations on a truly unique adventure. Stevenson's turn of phrase and imagery is remarkable, and at times laugh-out-loud funny! All that said, though the book is quite short, there were still times I felt I was slogging though to the next truly great moment. Even still, I highly recommend this book especially if traveling in the Napa region. I bought it in one visit to the RLS museum, and read it several yea ...more
Feb 10, 2018 rated it liked it
Short, interesting little book about the Napa/Sonoma area in the late nineteenth century.
Feb 27, 2017 rated it liked it
Interesting view on early California history. The place seemed so small then.
May 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Clever, funny, descriptive ... Not a honeymoon I'd envy, but a wonderful description to make you feel you were there. ...more
Justin Burt
'The happiest lot on earth is to be born a Scotchman. You must pay for it in many ways, as for all other advantages on earth. You have to learn the paraphrases and the shorter catechism; you generally take to drink; your youth is a time of louder war against society, of more outcry and tears and turmoil, than if you had been born, for instance, in England. But somehow life is warmer and closer; the hearth burns more redly; the lights of home shine softer on the rainy street; the very names, ende ...more
Nov 30, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: own_it
A hard but eloquent read. RLS is a flowery writer and I mean that in a good way. I felt as transported as possible considering how hard it was to relate to certain concepts (I.e. toll house) and not knowing a fair number of words (contumelious, chary, sachems, and ladings to name just a few). I like to read about pioneers and while I didn’t fully understand what was going on in this story, I enjoyed reading about the history of of St. Helena & Calistoga and overall appreciated RLS’s tone, langua ...more
Nov 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
It's amazing to me how he can write about something so simple and uninteresting yet so perfectly make you feel like you are there. He captures your interest by the deep realism and understanding of humans and how they see the world. The subject was not that interesting but the writing is so so good. ...more
Mar 24, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019-read, california
I'm a fan of Stevenson's nonfiction and his typical turn of phrase and low-key humor are evident here, but it's a pretty skimpy effort. Disappointing overall and as a result the typical bigotries of the 19th century are more wince-inducing than they would be in a more fully fleshed work. I think it's most likely to appeal to the Stevenson completist or the California history buff. ...more
Mandy Debord
Excellent and inspiring description of early 20th century Napa Valley. For this native Napan, was inspired to hike the Oat Hill Mine Trail to walk where RLS rode and wrote.
Bill Jenkins
Ok. About Stevenson’s hellish trip from England to San Francisco. Largely a description of characters he met along the way. Stevenson doesn’t have a very high regard for Americans of any race.
James Frase-White
A most interesting honeymoon, spent in an old mining camp, on Mount Saint Helena in California, Stevenson rarely mentions his new wife. He does a remarkable job in fleshing out the other characters in his tale, including an odd "respectful anti-semitism" no doubt fashionable in that time, and some curious thoughts and bright observations of the fellow inhabitants of the mountain. Most impressive are his physical depictions of the the mountain: the fog rolling in, like a great andulivian flood, w ...more
Snow Ford
Aug 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
a nice little novella of Stevenson's rustic honeymoon on a mountain above Calistoga in a deserted mining camp. I chose this book because I wanted to read a story with my boys that had mellifluous writing, with more complex vocabulary but was still accessible. This was a good choice, since we had familiarity with "A Childs Garden of Verses" and "Treasure Island", and the local tie in. Each chapter is a little vignette, making it a good choice for bedtime. It was a delight to read aloud, with lang ...more
Rebecca Chekouras
Apr 11, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Libraries closed, local bookstores shuttered, reluctant to use Amazon, I dug into my bookshelves and came across this account of Stevenson’s idyll high in the Silverado hills overlooking Calistoga and St. Helena, the gift of a friend when I moved to the Valley of the Moon nextdoor. Rich in observation of people and place, lush with sensual detail of Napa Valley in the heat of summer, Stevenson summers among those who remained after silver mining in the area collapsed and those who planted grapev ...more
May 12, 2009 rated it it was ok
I thought that this would be a fun book to read because we had gone to the Petrified Forest in CA where Robert Louis Stevenson had been and this book had been written about his account there. But, I forgot that the auther was Scottish and a poet and I really didn't like the way he wrote. I had a hard time following his writings as he jumped around so much. I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone unless they like the writings of Robert Louis Stevenson. ...more
Jordan Taylor
Nov 29, 2012 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: fans of Robert Luis Stevenson or those interested in the Californian Napa Valley
I came across this little book in the dollar bin of a used bookstore, and was intrigued because I had never heard of this particular manuscript by Stevenson.
Basically, it is a simple, concise collection of various portraits of scenery, all located in the California mountains around Napa Valley. The descriptions were charmingly pastoral. However, after a little while all the descriptions of houses, valleys, and mountains seem to merge and become all one and the same.
Extremely repetitive.
Aug 23, 2015 rated it liked it
Who knew RLS wrote nonfiction so eloquently and even reverently? Highly recommended if you live in or love California's wine country, of and on which he waxes poetic, transporting you to a place and time that's almost mythical. His comment that napa valley wine is "bottled poetry" is well known around there, but it's his description of waking to find the valley below him filled with fog, like a lake, that I found most poetic. ...more
Jul 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
Excellent travel memoir of Robert Louis Stevenson's time spent in the Napa Valley/Calistoga region, in particular the old mining town called Silverado. His descriptions of the people and the area (in 1880) are wonderfully detailed and almost poetic. I could see the old mines, the ramshackle, abandoned house and the beautiful, mesmerizing, all encompassing fog.

I highly recommend this for Napa Valley/California/the old West fans.
Noran Miss Pumkin
Jun 09, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: travel reader
Recommended to Noran by: locals
Shelves: classic
this was my first travel read,The Petrified Forest of Calistoga, California is the basis of this story. this started my life long habit of travel reads. it was an exciting read for a young lady that had never been more than 75 miles away from home, nor flown before. nor traveled without her parents before either. so my rating maybe a little off.
May 31, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you read this, remember that this was about 1870. I DEFFINATELY would not want to be part of settling the west. Living like this doesn't appeal to me at all. LOL Give me a bathroom and round up anytime !! I am still not sure if Stevenson was being a bigot or just describing people's backgrounds. BUT I am now researching to see if Silverado is still in Calif. ...more
Apr 29, 2011 rated it liked it
A memoir by the famous author about the brief period he and his new bride lived in an abandoned house near an abandoned silver mine just ten miles or so from Calistoga, California. I've heard about it for years. It was good to finally read it and get the impressions of the area of someone from that long ago. ...more
Paul Jellinek
Oct 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
Written at about the same time as "Treasure Island," his breakthrough classic, this little book is not one of Stevenson's best by any means, but it gives you a sense of the man and what his life was like at the time, and it does contain some beautiful writing, both about the Calistoga-Napa Valley section of California in the 1880's and about some the people who lived there. ...more
Dec 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
I delightful little gem from Roberet Lewis Stevenson--an account of his honeymoon in the more-or-less ghost town of Silverado. I got a little tired ofhis descriptions of the landscape and natural wonders (I know!), but they are beautifully written. Of more interest to me were the people he met along the way. Real characters. This should be a classic travel book.
Apr 07, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: usa-california
This book has been on my list for awhile. It's very short and provides interesting historical context for Napa Valley in the 1880s. It's also fairly racist and not particularly polished - more of a collection of diary entries from the period. ...more
Ali Skiera
May 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
I think it helped that I was able to purchase a copy from the RLS museum during my vacation to California... and read while lounging poolside and basking in the sun... right after checking out the Nappa Valley. It was the perfect read in the perfect setting>
Edward Weiner
Apr 06, 2015 rated it liked it
Enjoyed this because I am so familiar with the Napa Valley. Interesting descriptions of Napa Valley in the late 19th century. RLS wrote this before he wrote any of his more famous books. Kind of fun. Short and Sweet.
Jan 27, 2010 rated it liked it
Robert Louis Stevenson is one of the most compassionate and humorous writers it's been my pleasure to read. ...more
Jan 09, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2011
RLS's notes about he and his family living in Silverado CA to escape the San Fran. fogs. Good descriptions but seems like there should be more to the book. ...more
Jul 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
Book #1 in my 3-book 'Road Books' list along with 'On the Road' by Jack Kerouac and 'The Road' by Jack London. ...more
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Robert Louis Balfour Stevenson was a Scottish novelist, poet, and travel writer, and a leading representative of English literature. He was greatly admired by many authors, including Jorge Luis Borges, Ernest Hemingway, Rudyard Kipling and Vladimir Nabokov.

Most modernist writers dismissed him, however, because he was popular and did not write within their narrow definition of literature. It is onl

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