California Golden

New book coming August 8th!

Two sisters navigate the thrilling early days of California surf culture in this dazzling saga of ambition, sacrifice, and the tangled ties between mothers and daughters.

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Preorder and receive a special gift from Melanie

California—glittering neon nights at Whisky A-Go-Go and endless summer days surfing at Malibu—is the golden backdrop for this stirring saga of two sisters navigating their way through the turbulent 1960s. One sister finds herself swept up in celebrity complete with Beach Boys, parties at The Playboy Club and USO tours to Vietnam; the other, tugged down into the counterculture of drugs and cults. Both of them still grappling with their unorthodox childhood spent trying to keep up with their mother, a legendary female surfer in an era when housewives were expected to be Donna Reed, not Gidget. This gripping tale of ambition, sacrifice and finally, forgiveness, is ultimately an exploration of motherhood, sisterhood and womanhood in a time when society was shifting as tempestuously as the breaking waves.

Praise for California Golden

Melanie Benjamin pairs the surf culture of the Beach Boys with the sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll of Daisy Jones & the Six.

It’s rare to find such raw, honest sympathy for human beings and their capacity for mistakes and redemption…. a breath of bracing salt air.
—Author Beatriz Williamss

A gripping story… California Golden takes readers on an emotional, page-turning ride.
—Author Elyssa Friedland

Left me breathless. The Donnelly women, perfect in their imperfections, will stay with you long after the last page.
—Author Shelby Van Pelt
A superb job…. the perfect story for readers who want to get lost in an emotional novel about breaking barriers and being a family.
—Author Rachel Hanna

As an armchair historian, I’ve always been drawn to stories from the past, stories that still resonate today—stories we may not know or remember. Deeply personal stories that link the past with the present, because history only comes alive when we remember that it was made by real people, people just like us. This is why I write historical fiction; because facts are for the historian but emotions and imagination are the province of the novelist.

I hope you enjoy this site, and make sure to visit the “behind the scenes” pages of each of my books for additional tidbits!




March 23
One Book One Community discussion of The Children’s Blizzard
Rodman Public Library
215 E. Broadway Street, Alliance, OH
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