January 5, 2021
San Francisco – the Present
Before her withdrawal from society fourteen years ago, Meredith White had been a famous actress. Fifteen years ago, her actor-producer husband left her for a younger Italian actress, moving to New York. Her fourteen-year-old son went to New York to visit his father and died in a tragic accident. Her son’s death caused Meredith to retreat from the world. For the last fourteen years, Meredith has become a recluse in her stone mansion in San Francisco’s Pacific Heights. Her house servants, Jack and Debbie, have taken care of the house and Meredith ever since. She now considers them her only friends. That is until the earthquake. When an 8.2 quake hits the area, Meredith insists that she go into the street to discover if her neighbors need help. Debbie and Jack oppose her decision, insisting she doesn’t even know her neighbors. Meredith goes anyway, and everything begins to change.
While Meredith’s house had minimal damage, her neighbors were severely damaged and have gone to the street for safety. Meredith meets Tyla, her husband, Doctor Andrew Johnson, and their children, eleven-year-old Will and seven-year-old Daphne. Daphne possesses a beloved doll Martha, who helps her in difficult situations. Unfortunately, her brother doesn’t have a friend like Martha to help him. Other residents include blind concert pianist Arthur Harriman, his assistant Peter Stern, wealthy businessman Joel Fine, and his current live-in girlfriend, Ava Bates. Meredith invites all of them to stay in her house until theirs are repaired. They know who Meredith is as her reputation as an actress is still well known, and all are excited at her invitation. Retired Air Force Colonel Charles Chapman also shows up. He is checking neighborhoods in his work for the Office of Emergency Services during this devastating crisis.
The past histories and current situations of these characters, both good and bad, begin to intertwine. The reader’s interest is captured as their involvement with each other brings significant changes to their lives. The story shows how devastation can lead to attainment or even greater failure.