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C.J. Noonan

Storytelling from California

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Sea-Hill Press

April 2011


paperback and Kindle

ISBN 978-097080506-5




ISBN 978-19372003-2

What Readers Say….

“What details. So thoughtful. So perfect.”  Ilene Beckermann, author Love, Loss, and What I Wore

 “Mary's long life is one that proves there is wealth beyond money.”  pjl

 “her characters are full of animation, no wooden lifeless personalities in this book.’  sen

 “fascinating California history. And it's also a page turner.” RKC

“enlightenment and compassion” Alice Medrich, author Bittersweet

Truckee River at Truckee, California

Indian paintbrush by


A native Californian...

... born in Sacramento, raised in Culver City, southern California. B.A. in Humanities, University of California at Berkeley, M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction, Teacher’s College, Columbia University.

Writing was not my high school or college forte. Part of the Baby Boomer generation dedicated to “righting the world,” I became an elementary teacher in large urban schools, the last in San Jose, California. My expertise is bilingual education, English Language Development, and best practices to improve student achievement in low-performing schools.

As we all know, composition is the hardest of the language arts subjects for students. To support young writers, I have been a teacher-consultant for the Bay Area Writing Project since 1985. In fact, I became a knowledgeable writer myself after learning from the accomplished BAWP teachers who write and share their expertise with their students and with other teachers.

Now I write non-fiction articles as a member os the the Peninsula Democratic Coalition, League of Women Voters, and American Association of University Women. I’ve published personal narrative in the ADA Forecast magazine, and short story fiction in Digital Paper, The Writing Disorder, 34th PARALLEL, New Rivers Press American Fiction Journal, and Schuylkill Valley Journal..

The idea for my debut novel, The House on Harrigan’s Hill (April 2011) came from my grandmother, who spent her young adolescent years in turn-of-the-century Truckee, California, and was a great story teller. My sister and I heard of her adventures all through our childhood.


The day she told us about the boys, who lived with the family while their mother went to Reno to have her baby, we learned the story of the husband and the lover and the murder. As adult I learned about the 1911 Woman Suffrage Amendment giving California women the right to vote when my grandmother recalled bonfires in Truckee to rally for the amendment.

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The House on Harrigan's Hill ...

The famous Rocking Stone

Truckee Railroad Depot

Photos courtesy of the Truckee-Donner Historical Society

As their parents struggle against each other, Mary Edwards and her brother and sisters fend for themselves in the high Sierra isolated railroad outpost of Truckee, California, in 1910, a time of economic and social instability.


After Papa’s infidelity with Mama’s sister, Mama kicks him out and takes the children to a ramshackle refuge on Harrigan’s Hill where the family tries to overcome severe poverty until disaster after disaster pulls them down.


Finally, in pursuit of money to keep together, the family takes in two children, placing themselves in the middle of revenge and murder which Papa, chastened and wishing to return, helps resolve morally, if not legally. The family heads out of the mountains to Sacramento, hoping for a better life in the sunny, verdant valley.


When Mary, 87, tells her great-grandson about the drama that enveloped her mountain girl life, the tale sparks memories of her city woman experiences after the family escaped to Sacramento. Her perceptions shift from youthful innocence to old-age understanding of irrational human behavior while she reflects on the tumultuous transition from frontier to modern-day life.


The novel is a poignant tale of the struggles with treacherous nature versus disasters made by man.

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My Books

Church Street in Winter

Photos courtesy of Truckee-Donner Historical Society

Last Chance Saloon

Ice Castle and Toboggan Slide

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the house on harrigan's hill

Set in the Sierra Nevada railroad outpost of Truckee, California, the story follows the Edwards family, as they struggle to survive in this harsh mountain environment.  Based on true events, this touching novel interweaves the lives of the five Edwards children across the fabric of the twentieth century while capturing the power of the human spirit to withstand the heartbreak of poverty and loss. 

- Rosemary Hayward, author of Margaret Leaving

The House on Harrigan's Hill

To Buy the Book or Contact the Author

Sea-Hill Press

April 2011


Paperback and Kindle

ISBN 978-097080506-5



ISBN 978-19372003-2

To ask for "Questions to Use with Book Groups" contact

Meandering Truckee River

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