In the mid-1800s, three immigrant families—Irish, Mexican, and Japanese—settled along the banks of the American River in Northern California. A century later only one family remains. The Morales family lost their land when California became a state. The Japanese colony collapsed. But Cormac McPhalan’s Mockingbird Valley Ranch, now managed by his grandson, Owen, is still a thriving family business.
Then, in the politically- charged year of 1959, Owen’s wife, Marian, leaves the ranch to follow her dream of becoming a professional artist. Her twelve-year-old daughter, Alex, a musical prodigy, goes with her, while fifteen-year-old Kate stays behind and tries to hold the family together despite the growing rift between her father, Owen, and her older brother, Julian. But Kate shocks and angers her father when she falls in love with the ranch foreman’s son, Japanese internment camp survivor, Tommy Ashida. And Marian’s summer love affair with with a talented young musician, Carl Morales, ignites a firestorm that will later impact all three families.
From the concert halls of Europe to Kyoto’s ancient avenues, and Manhattan’s artist’s lofts to San Francisco’s North Beach, the members of a new generation— artists, musicians, poets and politicians, the inheritors of their immigrant ancestors’ hopes and dreams— make their way through the turbulent decade of the sixties. But when an unexpected tragedy brings the three families together, they find that they are torn apart by conflicting opinions, dangerous secrets, engrained prejudices, and their own lofty ambitions.
Set against the natural beauty of Northern California, O’Connor weaves a complex tapestry of interrelationships and betrayals that captures the mood and resonance of a decade that began in innocence and ended in despair.
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Award-winning author Mallory M. O’Connor is a writer, art historian, musician, and professor emerita at Santa Fe College where she taught art history and served as director of the Santa Fe Art Gallery. O’Connor holds master’s degrees in both American history and art history from Ohio University, and has also lived in California, Florida, Mexico and Tennessee. She is the author of two non-fiction art history books, both published by the University Press of Florida. Since retiring from her position at SFC, Mallory has written three novels, the American River Trilogy. Book One, American River: Tributaries, was published in 2017 and recently won First Prize in the Fiction Category from Northern California Publishers and Authors. The book also won the President’s Award for Fiction from the Florida Authors and Publishers Association. Book two of the trilogy, American River: Currents, was published in 2018. Book three, American River: Confluence, is scheduled for a November 2018 release.