San Francisco, 1900
The Gilded Age
The Victorian Era
This story stars Lizzie Kennedy, a smart girl stuck at Miss Barstow’s snobby school for girls. Lizzie’s secret passion is science, an unsuitable subject for finishing-school girls. Lizzie lives to go on house calls with her physician father. On those visits to his patients, she discovers a hidden dark side of the city – a side full of secrets, rats, and rumors of the plague.
The newspaper, her powerful uncle, and her beloved papa all deny that the plague has reached San Francisco. So why is the heart of the city under quarantine? Why are angry mobs trying to burn Chinatown to the ground? Why is Noah, the Chinese cook’s son, suddenly making Lizzie question everything she has known to be true? Ignoring the rules of race and class, Lizzie and Noah must put the pieces together in a heart-stopping race to save the people they love.
I don’t read many historical fiction books, but this one caught my eye, and it turned out to be pretty good. I didn’t realize it was a historical fiction book when I started reading it. There are so many historical topics in this book that it’s hard to pick which ones to talk about. So I decided to talk about two main topics: Women’s Rights and the plague.
For a long time, women weren’t allowed to do much of anything. Women didn’t have the right to vote and were often refused entry to bars, restaurants, and other businesses. In schools, girls were only taught subjects deemed necessary for cultured young women destined to run a household of servants – French, elocution, dancing, music, geography, etiquette, and entertaining. No science and no math after third grade. But thanks to the Women’s Rights Movement that took place from 1848 to 1920, girls like Lizzie were starting to get their chance to be themselves. I think it’s good for today’s girls to learn about how girls were treated back in the day. I can’t imagine going to school and learning how to be a ‘proper lady.’ Ugh.
There actually was an outbreak of the bubonic plague in 1900. The timeline of what happens in the book and what actually happened is off. In real-time, it started around January 2 and ended in November 1908. I can’t go into too much detail about it, or I’ll ruin the mystery.
You can learn all about the plague and other historical topics at the back of the book.
For anyone who enjoys historical fiction books, I recommend this story.