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Book Review: The Ruins of California by Martha Sherrill

This review was first published on 60litres during the summer of 2011

There is nothing better than reading a book set in the place I am travelling.  This California-based book was even more special than that, as I bought it from the famous City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco.  As well as falling head-over-heels for the bookstore, I am in awe of the beauty of this book.  Set in the 1970s, it tells the story of Inez, raised in the suburbs by her flamenco dancer-turned-Real Estate Agent mother.  Taking centre stage in her life, and the story, is her bohemian father, Paul, who lives in San Francisco, refusing to conform to society’s norms.  He has clear flaws, and certainly couldn’t be accused of being a responsible father, but you can’t help but admire his stance on issues such as money not leading to happiness, and the freedom of individuality.  As well as the complex and interesting characters throughout the story, the book details a fascinating snapshot of life in the supposed carefree 1970s.  It’s story of relationships, family, and the trials of adolescence and finding one’s place in the world.  Having read the book, it is now ready to be passed to a book exchange, as I always do while travelling, but I am having trouble in passing this one on as I am waiting for a book exchange I feel is truly deserving of this masterpiece!

The City Lights Bookstore, San Francisco

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The Literary Owl rating: 4.5/5

Read with: A (very) large glass of Californian rosé wine

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Filed under Book Review, Bookstores, Literary Fiction