Now, THIS is a Book Launch Party!

July 12, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

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On the eve of April 18, 2011’s  105th anniversary of the cataclysmic 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Firestorm, my publisher, Sourcebook, and its Landmark division of historical novels–in partnership with Nob Hill’s fabled Fairmont Hotel–hosted an incredible book launch party for my new novel A Race To Splendor!

My job, as author, was to invite 125 guests representing local San Francisco Bay Area media, and anyone with links to historic preservation, local history, and the world of admirers of Julia Morgan, a “real life” character whose saga of restoring the post-quake Fairmont after the disaster when she was only 34-years-old and the first licensed woman architect in California, is the centerpiece of my novel.

The event was held from 4 to 7pm in the Fairmont’s legendary penthouse “Owners’ Suite” (also known as the “Presidential Suite” since numerous Commanders-in-Chief have stayed there), and featured wine and elegant nibbles within the huge apartment and terraces with views of the entire city and bay.

On the bottom of the invitation, in tiny print, were the words “1906 Attire – Optional.”

Well, just have a look at the response!  Of the more than a hundred attendees, perhaps eighty percent had come in full regalia.  The Edwardian costumes included top hats, feather boas, “fascinator” chapeaux, and even, for the gents, spats and gold-headed canes!

This is San Francsico, after all, where citizens are passionately proud of their city and its amazing and rambunctious history.

Friends arrived in the foyer full of a sense of being part of that special day when we celebrated, yes, the publication of an historical novel about the tumultuous rebuilding of a town that saw 400 city blocks demolished and 350,000 of its 410,000 population left homeless for up to two-and-a-half years…but it was also about celebrating a wonderful hotel that is still standing in all its regal splendor, and a hometown that not only survived this horrible disaster, but, like Humpty-Dumpty, put itself back together again through sheer grit and moxie.

April 18th was a time to raise a glass and celebrate ourselves, which we did in fine fashion!  My family and I felt privileged to be part of this recent moment in history, and, as you can see, dressed to fit the occasion. My son and daughter-in-law flew out from their home in New York City; my sister, cousins, and god-children arrived from all parts of California, and local friends and media colleagues, alike, got into the spirit of one of the most incredible parties an author could have been given to launch her book.   Perhaps in view of recent events like Katrina, the quake in Haiti and Japan, and the BP Oil Spill, these San Franciscans, above all people, know how fragil and precious life is and just being in our beautiful city to mark such an important anniversary was cause, enough, for celebration…