A Rich and Heartfelt Romance

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Overall, I really enjoyed The Davenports! I found the focal characters to be very compelling, enjoyed their journeys with romance and self-discovery, and was immediately drawn into the rich and vibrant world of 1910 Chicago. It had all the elements of a period romance that I really enjoy, with an added layer of depth through the detailed and natural portrayals of Olivia, Helen, Ruby, and Amy-Rose and their variety of struggles. In particular, I found Olivia's arc to be extremely compelling, and found it was complimented very well with her budding romance. I also appreciated the focus on sibling and familial relationships. This was simply both a very fun and entertaining read, and the discussions of the ways that the Davenport family, and the entire black community of Chicago, is deeply impacted by the history of slavery, its ongoing ramifications, and the threat of Jim Crow laws were deeply moving and added a layer of realism and compassion that period romances sometimes lack. I was rooting for each of the main women right from the get-go, and I found each of their perspectives to have a unique voice and a layered, deeply believable young woman. I also especially enjoyed the focus on sibling relationships and bonds! The setting was also very well-described, from the lavish balls to the natural beauty to the hustle and bustle of the city.

I think one aspect of this book that did not necessarily 100% work for me were some aspects of the pacing. While I feel like the four different perspectives and storylines were actually balanced pretty well throughout, the final quarter or so of The Davenports got away from me a bit. Up to that point, although growing issues are certainly present and there's tension in what the girls are going to do and how things are going to work out, it felt like the final quarter was packed with a very high level of drama and action all at once that felt a bit unexpected. That was really the only place where it felt like the multiple storylines did not all flow together well and have their own space; it just felt like a bit too much at once in some ways. Still, this was a very minor issue, and I enjoyed the endings that these four young women had and all the ways they grew! It was satisfying overall, just a little overwhelming.