The novella takes place in spring, 1896, San Francisco, CA among some of the city's wealthiest citizens. And there were indeed very wealthy people living in San Francisco. In the late nineteenth century, many of them clustered on Nob Hill, an exclusive neighborhood with breathtaking views. Because the residents were rich, they were called "nobility" or "nabobs", which was eventually shortened to "nob"--hence Nob Hill.
Take Mark Hopkins, for example. He was one of the Big Four who started the Central Pacific Railroad. Here's his home on Nob Hill in the 1880s.
|Mark Hopkins mansion, Nob Hill.|
|Hopkins mansion, interior|
Mr. Hopkins' next door neighbor, by the way, was Governor Leland Stanford, of Stanford University fame. He was also one of the railroad's Big Four. His house is a little less showy than Mr. Hopkins'.
It is just the sort of house my hero's father, Congressman Roger Blair, would find worthy of his high position.
Unfortunately, these homes (and their neighbors') were utterly destroyed by the earthquake and fires of 1906 (except for the granite walls surrounding the homes of the Big Four, including Hopkins and Stanford). The neighborhood maintained (and still maintains) its swanky reputation, but every owner of a great mansion rebuilt elsewhere. The InterContinental Mark Hopkins San Francisco Hotel now stands where his mansion had been, and The Stanford Court sits atop the site of his home.
There are stories upon stories here, both real and imagined, just one of which is in my novella.