I really tried with this book. I’ve checked it out of the library two times this year (it’s only early February as I write this) to get to 30%, but I could not connect with it. I didn’t even get to the earthquake! If we’re telling the truth, I was here mainly for the earthquake, which I know is weird.
So, Shaken to the Core is set in 1906 San Francisco, weeks before the earthquake that destroyed the city. It’s a romance between Guiliana, a Sicilian immigrant, and Kate, a shipping heiress. As the book opens, Guiliana’s brother dies, leaving her with nothing, so she gets a job as a maid at Kate’s parents’ house. Meanwhile, Kate is a photographer who wants to be a photojournalist, but can’t get her foot in the door at a newspaper.
And I just could not get into it. There’s a touch of heat in that Kate knows she is into women and not men, and so she does ogle Guiliana a few times. Similarly, Guiliana also appreciates Kate physically, but does not understand what that means. When I stopped reading, there were ten days left before the quake and they were busy spraining ankles and eating Italian food in North Beach. My biggest complaint about this book is that there’s almost too much historical detail, which is an issue I had with Jae’s Backwards to Oregon too. There were pages dedicated to ordering the meal in North Beach, and, honestly, I barely have the patience when I’m ordering food. And I am typing this as I look at San Francisco from across the bay and the weirdness about reading a book set when the city is destroyed and an unknown number of people died has really hit home.
Content warnings: sibling death, eventually the 1906 San Francisco earthquake happens (80% of the city burned, ~3000 people died), poverty, bigotry towards immigrants