Synopses & Reviews
Thomas Steinbecka (TM)s short story collection Down to a Soundless Sea won high praise from critics and readers everywhere. Now, he continues the family tradition of fascinating storytelling in his first full-length novel In the Shadow of the Cypress, which showcases his splendidly assured voice and exquisite eye for cultural detail.
In 1906, Doctor Charles H. Gilbert, a Stanford professor of marine biology discovers some ancient jade artifacts on Californiaa (TM)s Monterey Peninsula. The existence of these sacred stones, if authenticated, would indicate a very early Asian presence in the New World, an idea that conflicts with modern beliefs. When the Chinese fishing village where the artifacts were discovered is completely burned to the ground, there are many conflicting opinions about the proper fate of these artifacts. Eventually, a wealthy businessman agrees to pay for the stones to be transported back to China a but a tragic explosion on the boat occurs and the relics are lost at seaa ].until nearly a hundred years later when two young scholars join forces and attempt to locate the sunken treasure.
With superb attention to cultural detail, Steinbeck brings to vivid light the Chinese immigrant experience at turn of the century California, juxtaposing complex ancient rituals against contemporary customs with the grace, passion, and authority of a master.
In 1906, the Chinese in California lived in the shadows. Their alien customs, traditions, and language hid what they valued from their neighbors . . . and left them open to scorn and prejudice. Their communities were ruled ? and divided ? by the necessity of survival among the many would-be masters surrounding them, by struggles between powerful tongs, and by duty to their ancestors.Then, in the wake of natural disaster, fate brought to light artifacts of incredible value along the Monterey coast: an ancient Chinese jade seal and a plaque inscribed in a trio of languages lost to all but scholars of antiquity. The path to the truth, however, would prove to be as tangled as the roots of the ancient cypress that had guarded these treasures for so long, for there are some secrets the Chinese were not ready to share.Nearly a century would pass before an unconventional young American scientist unearths evidence of this great discovery and its mysterious disappearance. He begins to assemble a new generation of explorers to resume the perilous search into the ocean's depth . . . and the shadows of history. This striking debut novel by a masterful writer weaves together two fascinating eras into one remarkable tale. In the Shadow of the Cypress depicts California in all its multicultural variety, with a suspense that draws the reader inexorably on until the very last word.
From Thomas Steinbeck, the son of John Steinbeck, comes a thrilling story about a group of Chinese immigrants and the discovery of mysterious jade artifacts in turn-of-the-century California.