Paloverde begins in Los Angeles in the late 19C and tells the story of Amélie Deane and the two Van Vliet brothers Bud and Vincent (nicknamed 3Vee). Both brothers are in love with fifteen year old Amélie but she can only marry one and she chooses Bud, and heartbroken 3Vee leaves to make his fortune mining. When 3Vee returns he is married with a child, no fortune, but still in love with Amélie. 3Vee gets too drunk at a party and the actions he takes have consequences for himself, Amélie and Bud that carry over into the next generation. There’s a whole lot more than that, but it’s too complicated to try and detail without writing a full recap, which I don’t like to do.
The second part of the book tells the story of Amélie’s daughter Tessa and 3Vee’s son Kingdon as Hollywood is coming into its own and The Great War is raging in Europe. Kingdon, a flying ace is injured in France and while recuperating from his injuries in Los Angeles meets Tessa by accident and they are surprised to find they are cousins. Sparks fly (of course) and they fall in love, but the long ago actions of Kingdon’s father threaten to split apart the two lovers who may or may not be too closely related for marriage, and they are eventually wrapped up in a Hollywood scandal of murderous proportions.
Briskin takes the reader on a grand old multi-generational family saga through old Los Angeles, a shocking court battle against the railroad, the first discovery of oil, the birth of Hollywood and its decadent lifestyle to a final culmination in an airplane stunt for Kindgon’s latest movie that threatens to go terribly awry. Although many of the storylines were fairly predictable in how they would be resolved (except for the last one – I did not see that one coming!), I still found the book to be highly enjoyable and had a very difficult time keeping my nose out of it until the very end.