Wow, this first month of 2015 has just flown by! And with the end of the month comes the end of Jazz Age January, a challenge hosted by Books Speak Volumes in which participants were asked to read at least one book about or set during the 1920s. I only managed to read one book for this challenge — The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine — but I really enjoyed it! I also obtained a copy of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Flappers and Philosophers, which I unfortunately didn’t get around to reading. But maybe now I’ll save it for next year’s challenge! 🙂 Did you participate in Jazz Age January? If so, what did you read?
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!
I think I’ve already mentioned that I am greatly reducing my challenge commitments for 2015. But when I heard about Jazz Age January, I simply couldn’t resist! As you can probably guess, Jazz Age January is a month-long event hosted by Books Speak Volumes that celebrates all things Roaring Twenties. The only requirement is to read at least one Jazz Age book — a term that encompasses literature and poetry from the era, nonfiction, and historical fiction. And I just happen to have a few qualifying books on my TBR list! I’d like to read F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Flappers and Philosophers if I can get my hands on a copy, and I’ve already placed a hold at the library for Genevieve Valentine’s The Girls at the Kingfisher Club. If all else fails, I can always dip into The Portable Dorothy Parker! Anyway, if this event sounds interesting to you, click here for more information and to sign up!