So it has been a loooooooooooooooooooong time since I did a book club book review, I was only a few behind but then things happened and I fell behind.
I am almost a year behind in reviews, but I will do my hardest to catch up.
So quick recap for those who haven’t heard of my book club.
So as you all know I started a book club, because you know me and books…
Every month we read a book and I do a little post on the book we read and discussed. What can I say, I just love books and need to be around others who feel the same.
There is no theme, other than with each month, a different member gets to pick a book, whichever one they want. This time was my turn and I chose:
Chasing the Wind (California Rising #3) by Paula Scott
So I was first introduced to Paula Scott when I worked at our local museum. I actually got to meet the her and speak to her, and after hearing about how she researched and just listening to how she spoke about her work I decided to borrow the book from the library and read: Until the Day Breaks.
Then the second book came out and my coworker and I were discussing the series and she told me that she had really enjoyed it. A couple weeks later I was at work and realized, I had forgotten to bring a book to pass the time when we had no one visiting the museum.
I bought the Far Side of the Sea and could not put it down!
So of course I had to share the books with my book club:
So on to the third book:
The first book was the story of Protestant Rachel coming to Catholic California from the East coast, getting an arranged marriage to Roman Vasquez, befriending Roman’s sisters Maria and Isabella, and getting caught up in Bear Flag Revolt.
The second book was about Maria who gets kidnapped by Rachel’s father, raped, joins a shipping company, goes around the Americas, and ends up in the gentrifying/creating the lawful city of San Francisco. The second book is my favorite as it is an amazing story of overcoming trauma, working through past issues and insecurity, redemption, and has a powerful female character.
Chasing the Wind is the third installment and the story follows the path of Isabella Vasquez. Isabella is biracial (Native American and Russian), her mother died when she was a baby and her father, a fur trapper, brought her to Mission San Francisco Solano. There she was adopted by the Vasquez family, adopted cousin to Roman and Maria but raised as their sibling.
In the first book, she is a young girl who is one of Rachel’s first friends, spending time with her and giving her an education on the culture. With the Americans taking California, Isabella’s life is about to dramatically change. In the second book she has grown into a beautiful young woman, headed with her adopted father to the gold fields of Marysville, CA.
Marysville, for many who don’t know, was named after one of the survivors of the Donner Party and was the gateway to the gold fields. It used to be one of the largest cities in CA, a rival to San Francisco (until all the silt went into the river and made it hard for ships to pass through). You could get anything and everything you wanted in Marysville, but it was also a very hard place to live-especially for a woman-especially for a Native American woman.
Peter Brondi is a mountain man who tamed the west with Kit Carson and John C. Fremont. He fought in the Mexican American War and against Native Americans. In fact he hates Native Americans for the horrors he witnessed and because one stole his father-he married one and had a son with her.
He’s currently searching for his half brother Paul, to bring him home and see their old and dying father. However, there is always time for cards and and he plays them winning the mining camp singer Bluebird-nickname for Isabella Vasquez.
Yes, once Isabella was the daughter of the rich Californio and now she is property-having lost her privilege and status when California changed hands.
I really enjoyed the way Paula Scott dealt with the cultural issues as there are very few books out there that cover this. We have a biracial character, raised in a completely different culture, and trying to navigate the changing culture of the state she lives in while trying to understand the identity of who she is in a world that there are hardly any like her.
Tell you what Isabella it’s almost 170 years later and it still is difficult for biracial and multicultural people.
So it doesn’t matter that Isabella is half Russian-Native American is all the world sees and how they treat her. She was educated, knows how to read and write, and speak multiple languages…but is treated like cattle. She is won by Peter, who is pressured into marrying her by a circuit preacher.
They have a night of passion-with sweet, naive, and young Isabella falling head over heels in love. The next day Peter drops her off at a brothel as he doesn’t believe they can really be married. I mean she was in a saloon and traveled the mining camps singing, there’s no way she is a classy lady-she must be a prostitute.
The brothel that she is dropped off at is still standing and now a restaurant, The Silver Dollar Saloon. We were able to meet with Paula Scott there and discuss this book along with the one she was currently working on Farming Grace: A Memoir of Life, Love, and a Harvest of Faith (which we read in September and I will review later).
When Peter left I was like this can’t be real, he’s going to march right back-but no. Isabella stays behind at the brothel earning her keep by reading to men and singing.
Poor Isabella, all she wanted was to belong to a family and then start her own. She lost hers, gained one with Peter…or so she thought. Now she has no one.
Peter leaves and Paul comes back to town. Paul falls for Isabella and every night tries to charm her more and more. Isabella is heartbroken, vulnerable, and alone. Each night Paul breaks down more and more of her walls and she gives in to him.
But oh no…Paul leaves to get away from some card players he owes, Isabella turns out to be pregnant, she is attacked by a sadistic man, she flees to Fort Ross to search for her real father, Peter returns and discovers her “betrayal”, and Peter follows her-intent of finding her and doing right by her, but will they be able to reconcile after all that has transpired?
So at first I was very angry with Peter. He left her in a brothel and then is angry because she started having sex with someone???!!! YOU LEFT HER IN A BROTHEL!!!! WHAT DID YOU THINK WAS GOING TO HAPPEN???
But he does improve as you read. Scott created complex characters as Peter isn’t your usual hero and has to go on an emotional journey of working through envy, bitterness, prejudice, pride, iron out the issues with his father and brother in order to be a real man and a good husband.
Isabella has to go on her own journey to discover who she is, work on her abandonment issues, insecurity, forgiveness, bitterness, her own familial issues
Both are able to accomplish this by their faith and trust in God.
It was an amazing story! I highly recommend it! I LOVED it! I could not put it down as I consumed page after page in earnest to see how it would end. The characters are amazing and the story captivating.
For more Book Club Picks, go to Book Club Picks: Julie
For more Paula Scott, go to Book Club Picks: The Mother Keeper
For more California Rising books, go to Book Club Pick: Far Side of the Sea
For more Christian novels, go to Book Club Picks: Desperate Pastors’ Wives
For more bible verses, go to Literary Tea Parties