The Hamilton sisters have been trapped all their lives. Their father is a harsh, cruel man who desperately wanted a son but got twelve daughters instead. He keeps them locked in the house at all times, never allowing them to catch a glimpse of the outside world. As the girls grow up, the eldest, Jo, finds a way to make their lives bearable: they sneak out of the house every night and go dancing. In the murky underworld of 1920s New York, it’s easy to blend in with the crowd, to trade a dance for some champagne or gin, to stay out all night just to feel young and alive. But Jo knows that her sisters’ freedom is incredibly fragile, and she is always watching to make sure that no girl reveals her true identity, gets caught in a police raid, or (worst of all) falls in love. When her father announces that he wants to marry off the girls to various business associates, Jo must take desperate action. She reaches out to a man from her past, a bootlegger who almost stole her heart. But her need to protect her sisters may cost Jo her own chance at happiness.
The premise of this book intrigued me immediately — a retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses set during the Roaring Twenties? Sign me up! And thankfully, the novel more than lived up to my expectations. One of my favorite things about it is the setting; New York City in the 1920s really came alive for me. The book captures the glamor and freedom and excitement of dancing all night in a smoky club, listening to a hot jazz band, and drinking exotic cocktails. But it also evokes the dangers of the era, where alcohol was illegal and nightclub raids were commonplace (unless you paid off the right cops). This setting is perfect for the Hamilton sisters’ story, as they are trying to break free but also to stay safe. I was also impressed by the characterization of the sisters; there are twelve of them, so obviously some are more fully developed than others, but they all have at least one unique quality. I also enjoyed the romance in the book, which was bittersweet but ultimately satisfying. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction or fairy tale retellings!