The vast, fertile expanses of California's Great Central Valley form the setting of this novel by Ernest J. Finney. This is a world where life and time itself are determined by the rhythms of the crops, and where each of the myriad ethnic groups who have settled here has contributed its own skills and traditions to the heady mix of Valley life. Finney's story traces the Valley's history from the late 1920s until the end of World War II through the lives of three families who work neighboring farms along one of the Valley's nameless roads - the Palestinis, Italian immigrants who grow grapes for raisins; the Brazils, Portuguese dairymen; and the Japanese Hamadas, who raise chickens and strawberries. As the families struggle to make their farms prosper against the challenges of nature and a fickle marketplace, their children grow up together, moving from childhood into adolescence, falling in and out of love, then into the uneasy tensions of young adulthood. And if the patterns of the seasons seem unchanging, life itself is not. The Depression brings starving refugees from the Dust Bowl and further incursions from the greedy Land Company; new crops and technologies are introduced; and cultivation spreads in every direction across the flat expanses of the Valley. Then all familiar life ends with the shattering onset of war. The Hamadas are confined to a relocation camp with other Japanese Americans, and the gentle Julian Palestini, who wishes only to till the soil of his parents' farm, finds himself a soldier in the midst of the brutal Italian campaign.
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A well-crafted but narratively undercooked story of life in California's Central Valley during the three decades following WW I. Finney, as in his previous fiction with California settings (Flights in the Heavenlies, 1996, etc.), deftly evokes both time and place with appropriately vivid descriptions--e.g., the way raisins are made and strawberries picked--but the story told here by his various and sundry characters is more like a motley collection of sketches than a full rural saga. It begins in 1928, when the wounded sailor Peter Hart arrives in the Valley to manage the town's hotel, and it ends in Italy during WW II as Julian, a young Italian American reared in the Valley, now a war hero and embryonic journalist, changes his mind about going AWOL and decides to return home, sickened by the pointless carnage. In between these tales fits another about three families--the Portuguese Brazils, the Italian Palestinis, and the Japanese Hamadas--and their relations with one another and the locals in changing times. Their story is told by a range of voices, including that of Hortense Brazil, who has admired Julian since they first rode the school bus together; schoolmate Grayson Hamada, whose elder sister Reiko is Hortense's best friend; and Fred, an orphan from ``dust bowl Oklahoma'' who is helped by Peter and soon falls for Reiko. The action takes in hunts in the mountains for bear and deer, organized by Ray, Reiko, and Grayson Hamada's irrepressible grandfather; the sharing of labor at harvest time; the travail of the Depression; and farming setbacks and triumphs. Also dealt with is the outbreak of war. The Hamadas are summarily put in a remote camp in Arizona, and Reiko and Fred's love is destroyed by her rage at her family's internment. Nice vignettes, but little more. -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.Review:
"California Time" reaps from fields of dreams.
Linda Temple, USA Today
"The hardships and joys of an immigrant farm community unfold gently in California Time, Ernest J. Finney's fictionalized history of California's vast Central Valley from the early 1920s through World War II.
Then, as now, California attracted more immigrants than any state in the union. Italian, Portuguese, Mexican and Japanese immigrants flocked to the golden land between the snowy Sierra Nevada and the Pacific Ocean, coaxing an existence from the cheap, fertile soil stretching from San Francisco to Los Angeles.
Finney's nameless farm town is a canvas rich in multicultural hues....there are the Brazils, dairy farmers from the Azores; the Palestini family, who dry their Italian grapes into raisins, and the shy Hamada clan, headed by an ascetic strawberry farmer and the delicate "picture bride" he send for from his native Japan.
The families unashamedly parade their ethnic traditions and marvel openly at their cultural differences, banding together to survive the whims of nature, the sinking poverty of the Depression and the incursion of desperate Dust Bowl refugees.
But when the Hamadas are wrenched away to an internment camp after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, their grieving neighbors--who had come to think of themselves as Americans--feel duped and fearful. They discover their farms are no refuge from the juggernaut of war, and that skin color, once an innocent curiosity, is a sudden and inexplicable basis for cruelty."
California Time is more memorable for its local color and history than its storytelling; sadly, the label "regional fiction" fits it all too well. -- The New York Times Book Review, Megan Harlan
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Descrizione libro Condizione libro: Brand New. Book Condition: Brand New. Codice libro della libreria 97808741731161.0
Descrizione libro Univ of Nevada Pr, 1998. Hardcover. Condizione libro: New. Codice libro della libreria P110874173116
Descrizione libro Univ of Nevada Pr. Hardcover. Condizione libro: New. 0874173116 New Condition. Codice libro della libreria NEW6.0563730
Descrizione libro Univ of Nevada Pr, 1998. Hardcover. Condizione libro: New. Codice libro della libreria DADAX0874173116