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Romance and other things

Pleasant surprise

The Girls at the Kingfisher Club - by Genevieve Valentine

From award-winning author Genevieve Valentine, a "gorgeous and bewitching" (Scott Westerfeld) reimagining of the fairytale of the Twelve Dancing Princesses as flappers during the Roaring Twenties in Manhattan.

Jo, the firstborn, "The General" to her eleven sisters, is the only thing the Hamilton girls have in place of a mother. She is the one who taught them how to dance, the one who gives the signal each night, as they slip out of the confines of their father’s townhouse to await the cabs that will take them to the speakeasy. Together they elude their distant and controlling father, until the day he decides to marry them all off.

The girls, meanwhile, continue to dance, from Salon Renaud to the Swan and, finally, the Kingfisher, the club they come to call home. They dance until one night when they are caught in a raid, separated, and Jo is thrust face-to-face with someone from her past: a bootlegger named Tom whom she hasn’t seen in almost ten years. Suddenly Jo must weigh in the balance not only the demands of her father and eleven sisters, but those she must make of herself.

With The Girls at the Kingfisher Club, award-winning writer Genevieve Valentine takes her superb storytelling gifts to new heights, joining the leagues of such Jazz Age depicters as Amor Towles and Paula McClain, and penning a dazzling tale about love, sisterhood, and freedom.

 

Review:

 

Commenter at DA recommended this book. I started and well, could not stop. Now, this is the retelling of "12 princesses" therefore some suspending of disbelief is unavoidable especially since there is no magic or anything like that in this retelling and not everything in fairy tale would translate well into contemporary setting. But I needed less suspension of disbelief than I was worried about and overall I really liked it.

 

What I look for in historical book (romance or not romance) is to transport me into another time - I do care about settings of the book. I felt like I was transported in New York of the twenties, where cruel father decided that all of his daughters should be seen as less as possible and for years pretty much not seen at all. But in many ways thanks to the oldest daughter Jo aka "the General" they all learned how to dance and they all had been sneaking away to dance at night for years as their only chance to be outside till Daddy dear decided it is time to marry them off or worse.

 

As much as I loved the settings I think the main reason I loved this book is because it is about genuine bonds of sisterhood. I never doubted the love between the girls and even if some of them were afraid of Jo they loved her too. Jo was definitely the most well portrayed sister, personality wise - flawed and all, but decent and likeable, however while I cannot say that all twelve had  distinct personalities, the most impressive was at least five or six more were distinguishable from others.

 

There is a romantic story too for some of the sisters (but NOT all) and it is low key. I liked it that way, it suited the book perfectly.