The story begins in Valparaiso, Chile and is focused around Eliza Sommers. An infant Eliza was abandoned on the doorstep of Rose and Jeremy Sommers (brother and sister), and Rose raised Eliza as the daughter. One day, Englishman Jacob Todd comes to Chile, supposedly as a missionary out to convert the heathen population. Many, many pages then ensue with endless bits of information about Todd's life in Chile and his socializing with the Sommers until he's finally run out of town. How exciting that was. Not.The story then switches to a more grown up Eliza who has found her twu wuv fowevar and she'd like nothing better than to marry him, but him being poor and not white that's not going to be an option so the two have secret sex in the storeroom when everyone is asleep. How exciting that was. Not.Then finally, things show signs of picking up - there's gold in them thar hills in California and Eliza's lover runs off to make his fortune. Eliza isn't having none of that, especially when she finds she's pregnant, so she plots to get on a ship to California and find him. I know, I know - it's a big state and all, but she's going to find him dammit. Eliza can't just buy passage on an outbound ship (small town and all), so she stumbles upon Tao Chi'en, who sneaks her on the ship he's working on and hides her away. Being pregnant and all she's soon sick as sick can be, but miracle of miracles (!!!), Tao Chi'en is a doctor. And just so's we know he's a real doctor we get pages upon pages of details about his life in China and how he became a doctor until he was shanghaied. Endless pages of details, just so we know the author did her research. How exciting that was. Not.OK, so it took 200+ pages before our intrepid pair get to San Francisco, so you think things would pick up, right? Not. You then get another 200 pages of Eliza and Tao Chi'en making their way around searching for the lost boyfriend. Or Eliza striking out on her own searching for the lost boyfriend. Or all about Eliza dressing as a man and meeting up with an odd group of misfits and the boring life they led. How exciting that was. Not.Frankly, I am flummoxed at all the rave reviews from all those professional type newspaper reviewers. Perhaps this is another one of those literary books that everyone loves because we're supposed to love because *everyone* says we're supposed to love it. Perhaps it's just me again, but this was probably the most boring novel ever, topped off with the longest paragraphs I've ever seen outside of a Nathaniel Hawthorne novel - although Hawthorne can tell a good story. This author, cannot.