Alta Live: Joy Lanzendorfer

The Alta Journal contributor’s debut novel takes readers on a sweeping California journey

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Joy Lanzendorfer’s debut novel takes readers on a sweeping California journey, one filled with page-turning drama, meticulously researched historical detail, and three extraordinary women. Alta Live is pleased to welcome Lanzendorfer, a regular contributor to Alta Journal, for a digital discussion of Right Back Where We Started From. Join us!


About the author:

Joy Lanzendorfer’s work has appeared in Alta Journal, the New York Times, the Atlantic, Smithsonian, NPR, and the Washington Post.

About the book:

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 ambitiousness 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. The novel is a meticulously layered saga—at once historically rich, romantic, and suspenseful—about three determined and completely unforgettable women.•

Blackstone Publishing

Right Back Where We Started From by Joy Lanzendorfer

Blackstone Publishing
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