cover image Letters from the Corrugated Castle: A Novel of Gold Rush California, 1850–1852

Letters from the Corrugated Castle: A Novel of Gold Rush California, 1850–1852

Joan W. Blos, . . Atheneum/Seo, $17.99 (310pp) ISBN 978-0-689-87077-4

Told through a series of letters and newspaper dispatches, Newbery Medalist Blos’s (A Gathering of Days ) latest novel recounts the excitement and dangers of San Francisco during the Gold Rush. Believing herself an orphan, Eldora has lived with an adoptive family, the Holts, in New Bedford, Mass., since she was three years old. The Holts move to San Francisco to take advantage of Gold Rush prosperity, where they learn Eldora’s mother is still alive; soon after, 13-year-old Eldora and her mother, Mrs. Ramos, are reunited. (When Eldora was a girl, her mother was stricken with cholera on a sea voyage and was forced to send her daughter on without her—when her father could not be located, Eldora fell into the Holts’ care.) At her mother’s suggestion, Eldora moves to San Pedro where her mother, now a wealthy landowner, lives and runs an inn. Through the letters Eldora writes to her cousin Sallie back in New Bedford (and letters Eldora receives from Luke, whom Eldora met in San Francisco), readers will learn about the perils, dreams and daily routines that were part of these pioneers’ lives. With her mother away so often tending to business, Eldora grows lonely and yearns to return to San Francisco and to her life with the Holts. Suffused with a wealth of period details and language, this quiet, reflective tale is an appealing glimpse into the adventurous spirit that pervaded this chapter of American history. Ages 10-14. (May)