Right Back Where We Started From by Joy Lanzendorfer

This novel followed three women, all in the same family for decades as each had hardships and went through life. I like how the author wrote these characters and the storyline bounced between them all, it was almost like reading three books in one with the separate story lines that do all come together.

Vira crossed the Great Plains in a wagon train with her husband hoping to strick it rich in the West, the land of the gold. Although a bit late to the start, he was determined that they would make it rich and there was gold to be found, but along the way Vira gets more and more worried that maybe this wasn’t what she thought she was signing up for when she married Elmer.

Mabel grew up far from what her mother did, and knows nothing much of being poor or learning how to live with what you have. But Mabel is not quite understanding of why her mother can often be the way she is and makes a fateful decision one night that costs her everything. Everything that she works for the rest of her life trying to get back.

Sandra headed to Hollywood, she is going to make it big as an actress. She is sick of following around, what she considered her deadbeat husband and his band. She didn’t sign up for that type of life and she wants to live like the rich do. She wants the mansion on the hill, the lavish fur coats, and to dine with the elite through special invitation only. But as the Depression finally grips Hollywood her dreams are struck down yet again.

These three women all have hardships, and yet there is a common theme that runs through all of their lives. Often you hear of the recycle repeating with each generation, and this story is a great example of how the apple often does not fall too far from the tree no matter how hard we work at breaking from it.

Thank you to the author for the free book, and Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for the invite, I liked this historical fiction in that it touched on various historical events through history and how these women lived through them with their different perspectives.

Right Back Where We Started From
by Joy Lanzendorfer

Publication Date: May 4, 2021
Blackstone Publishing
Paperback; eBook, & Audiobook

Genre: Historical Fiction



If misfortune hadn’t gotten in the way, Sandra Sanborn would be where she belongs–among the rich and privileged instead of standing outside a Hollywood studio wearing a sandwich board in the hope of someone discovering her. It’s tough breaking into the movies during the Great Depression, but Sandra knows that she’s destined for greatness. After all, her grandmother Vira crossed the country during the Gold Rush and established the Sanborns as one of San Francisco’s most prominent families, and her mother Mabel grew up in a lavish mansion and married into an agricultural empire. Success, Sandra feels, is in her blood. She just needs a chance to prove it.

In between failed auditions, Sandra receives a letter from a man claiming to be her father, which calls into question everything she believes about her family–and herself. As she tries to climb the social ladder, family secrets lurk in the background, pulling her down. Until Sandra confronts the truth about how Vira and Mabel gained and lost their fortunes, she will always end up right back where she started from.

Right Back Where We Started From is a sweeping, multigenerational work of fiction that explores the lust for ambition that entered into the American consciousness during the Gold Rush and how it affected our nation’s ideas of success, failure, and the pursuit of happiness. It is a meticulously layered saga–at once historically rich, romantic, and suspenseful–about three determined and completely unforgettable women.

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“In Right Back Where We Started From Joy Lanzendorfer has crafted a terrific first novel, one brimming with energy, wit, and emotional resonance. Sandra Sanborn is a wonderful character, very much alive on the page. And, the novel captures, vividly, some of the crazier times in California’s crazy history. Highly recommended!” –Peter Orner, author of Maggie Brown & Others

“Joy Lanzendorfer’s thrill of a novel, Right Back Where We Started From, tells the story of an engaging young woman, eager to be discovered in 1930s Hollywood. But as she looks to the future, a letter from a man who claims to be her father pulls her to the unknown past. This is a novel of California dreaming, from the Gold Rush to the Hollywood Hills. Lanzendorfer writes with charm, style, and great energy.” –Ellen Sussman, New York Times bestselling author of four novels: A Wedding in Provence, The Paradise Guest House, French Lessons, and On a Night like This

“From the California Gold Rush to the San Francisco earthquake, through the Great Depression and World War II, Joy Lanzendorfer artfully weaves a beautifully textured saga. Yearnings, secrets, and shame shape the lives of three generations of American women as they dare to question the rigid societal expectations that confine them to proscribed roles and stifle ambition. Gripping prose and complex and memorable characters make this shining debut novel a pleasure to read.” –Liza Nash Taylor, author of Etiquette for Runaways and the forthcoming In All Good Faith

About the Author


Joy Lanzendorferís work has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, The Atlantic, NPR, Smithsonian, Poetry Foundation, and many others. She was included in The Best Small Fictions anthology and was a notable in The Best American Essays 2019. She has been awarded grants and residencies from the Discovered Awards for Emerging Literary Artists, Wildacres Residency Program, and the Speculative Literature Foundation.


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Blog Tour Schedule

Wednesday, May 5
Excerpt at Passages to the Past

Thursday, May 6
Review at Crystal’s Library

Saturday, May 8
Review at Reading is My Remedy

Sunday, May 9
Review at Carole’s Ramblings

Monday, May 10
Review at Rajiv’s Reviews

Tuesday, May 11
Excerpt at Books, Ramblings, and Tea

Wednesday, May 12
Excerpt at Bookworlder

Sunday, May 16
Interview at Reader_ceygo

Monday, May 17
Review at Reader_ceygo
Review at Jorie Loves A Story

Wednesday, May 19
Guest Post at Novels Alive

Thursday, May 20
Review at Jessica Belmont

Friday, May 21
Review at Nursebookie

Monday, May 24
Review at Novels Alive
Review at Two Bookish Babes

Wednesday, May 26
Feature at Books, Cooks, Looks

Friday, May 28
Excerpt at Coffee and Ink
Review at The Enchanted Shelf
Review at The Book Club Network


Enter to win a copy of Right Back Where We Started From by Joy Lanzendorfer!

The giveaway is open to the US only and ends on May 28th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

Right Back Where We Started From

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