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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Proud Breed by Celeste De Blasis

Title: The Proud Breed
Author: Celeste De Blasis
Rating 5 Crowns

From the Back Cover:

An untamed woman...
A fearless man...
A magnificent love.

The monumental adventure that sweeps across a mighty century of American History.

My Review:

I can't tell you how much I enjoyed this sweeping saga that was first published in 1978. The story begins in the territory of California, 1844, when our hot-blooded heroine, Tessa, takes a private swim in her favorite secluded pool, discovers she's being watched by a strange Yankee with lust in his eyes, takes out her knife, and stabs him. Thus begins the love of a lifetime between Teresa Maria Julieta Margarita Macleod y Amarista and Gavin Ramsay.

Together they will raise a family and an empire, carving out their own piece of California with blood, sweat, and tears. They will battle the whims of mother nature, from massive floods to scorching heat, devastating drought, and earthquakes. They will face wild animals and even wilder people as Californios, Mexicans, Yankees, Indians, and the Chinese all grapple for control of the land of plenty. They will make their fortune from the Gold Rush and the development of the grand new city of San Francisco, where even more danger appears in the form of raging fires and bedlam as criminals and vigilantes battle for control of the streets. And then, as the railroad bridges the gap between the east and the west, bringing hoardes of fortune-seekers along with news of a terrible growing conflict between the north and the south, they will mourn the passing of their old way of life, and face a frightening, uncertain future.

Underneath it all their love for each other and for their homeland sees them through more than forty years of this tumultuous time in California's history. But their marriage is not without its share of emotional drama. As happens when two people love each other as fiercely as these two do, they can also hurt each other as no one else can. There were several times when I was so distressed by their actions that I wanted to scream and throw the book across the room, but always my anxious desire to see what would happen next and how they would overcome their mistakes and find their way back to each other won out. And thank goodness, they do always find their way back to each other.

I loved this novel. I hated this novel. I savored this novel. I took my time reading 821 pages packed with love and sorrow, adventure and excitement, triumphs and injustices; peopled with all sorts of colorful characters, some real and some imagined, representing the many facets of California's fascinating history. I really don't feel like I'm giving this novel the credit it deserves with my humble review, so I'm just going to wrap it up by saying that while I was reading this novel it became a part of me: feeding my soul, lifting my spirit, and then shattering my heart. But it was worth it. I'll never forget Tessa and Gavin. The Proud Breed will stand on my shelf of honor along some of my other favorites of the genre, like Gone With the Wind and Lonesome Dove, and I'll reread it every once in a while, when I need to be reminded of the power of a book to transport and transform. Celeste De Blasis was a fantastic storyteller. If you like to read about the courageous people who shaped America; if you like to lose your heart to a great love story; if you like to be swept away to a lost golden age--then this is the book for you!

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Anonymous said...

The cover certainly dates the book. A good book is still a good book, no matter when it was written. If you loved it and hated it, it must be written close to the way life really is. Not everything goes smoothly and has a Happily Ever After.
Thank you for the review. I'll have to dig through my boxes of old books and see if I have this one.

CelticLady said...

I remember reading this one back in the 80's. I enjoyed it so much I read all the other books the author wrote. I would also recommend Swan and Swan's Chance. Equally as interesting. Thank you for the great review.