IT’S 1977, AND BATTLES RAGE ON SAN FRANCISCO BAY OVER ATTEMPTS TO EVICT HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE, MOSTLY YOUNG AND REBELLIOUS, LIVING IN HOUSEBOATS
In the waning days of the hippie movement, along a stretch of San Francisco Bay known as Waldo Point, hundreds of young people live in an improvised community of off-kilter houseboats, taking inspiration from their guru, garrulous eighty-four-year-old Achille Palaiologos.
A change in property ownership threatens the community’s existence: the new owner, a developer, wants everyone evicted. The houseboaters fight back, enlisting in their cause Legal Aid attorney Rick Spenser. Battles ensue, both legal and physical, in the courts and on land and water. After a daring act of sabotage upends the developer’s plans, the houseboaters split into bitterly opposed factions over whether or not to propose a compromise plan. Meanwhile Rick, though supposedly committed to girlfriend Tiffany Wong, is attracted to houseboat leader Becky Yates. Both these conflicts culminate in a day and night of tragedy, betrayal and fear.
In the aftermath, Rick strives to repair his relationship with Tiffany, while Rick and Becky together struggle to save the community and end the houseboat wars.
"…a fun and thoughtful read…probes the ‘nobody's right when everybody's wrong’ culture clashes of the 1970s…put on your favorite old vinyl album, read and enjoy the ride."—Don Daglow, author of The Fog Seller
“The Sausalito, California houseboat wars of the ‘70s…makes for a wild chapter in Bay Area history and an entertaining read.”—Cyra McFadden, author of The Serial: A Year in the Life of Marin County
“…a fascinating, fictional chronicle of…the house-boat community of Sausalito, California…suspenseful and a page turner. I highly recommend this well written book.”—Colleen Rae, author of One Sausalito Summer
“In this thriller, a houseboat community’s legal case against developers in 1977 California culminates in murder…The attorney protagonist getting caught up in more melodrama than lawyering makes for an unusual but convincing tale.”—Kirkus Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Houseboat Wars is thoroughly well written and filled with accurate historical research. It is an entertaining funny read as well as a fascinating account of a quintessentially San Francisco historical period of time when hippies wore flowers in their hair and espoused love and peace. The descriptions of time, place and people evoke reminiscences of an idealistic past that has, indisputably, left its mark on history. The conclusion is both surprising and satisfying.
This novel, set in California in 1977, is a well-written, fictionalized account of a houseboat community’s legal case against developers. It’s a beautifully written, fast-paced thriller full of unexpected plot twists and complex characters. The realistic dialogue and the vivid details really make the book come alive for the reader. Kathleen Jones, author of "Love Is the Punch Line"
What a great read! If you know Sausalito, if you remember the 70’s, or if you just enjoy a page-turner full of colorful players and unlikely-yet-credible turns, read Housebook Wars. Author Charles Bush avoids the clichés of that period, framing a conflict between communal harmony and privatized progress into a surprisingly timely and relevant tale. I’m over-simplifying. There’s an ambitious, young attorney/protagonist with romantic issues, environmental laws old and new, the complex politics of a liberal and wealthy county, San Francisco art and literary history, well-painted local color — and murder. Highly recommended!