Two stories that twine together to comprise Wild Women and The Blues-- the ever-popular Roaring Twenties era and that of first-person narrator Sawyer Hayes,, a PhD.student whose thesis is built around Black filmmaker Oscar Micheaux (1884-1951, son of a slave who grew up to be the first Black American to produce a feature-length film, and did so two years before the famous Charlie Chaplin.( Learn more about Mr. Oscar Devereaux Micheaux on IMDb and enjoy a clip from “Unsung Black Heroes.”)
Essential to overcoming personal tragedy in his life and getting his thesis back on track, Sawyer has gained access to a senior living/managed care facility and its famous, 110-year-old resident, Ms.Honoree Dalcour who had been a performer for Mr. Micheaux. Sawyer knows Ms. Dalcour’s name from the back of photographs he found in the attic of his grandmother Maggie White Hendrickson, but more importantly because his grandmother has paid the bills for Ms. Dalcour ostensibly in honor of their friendship in Louisiana.
In 1925, despite being a sharecropper’s daughter, Miss Honoree Dalcour felt on top of the world since her dance lessons and previous small venue performances had led her to an invitation to dance at the upscale Dreamland Café, known for its crowd of educated Blacks; she also was inspired by Booker T. Washington’s book, A New Negro for a New Century. The flashback chapters instantly reveal Honoree’s tough patina protects her from lecherous men or paths that might lead her career astray. In turn, she tries to mentor younger girls who are willing to put up with domestic abuse since they feel they’ve got to have a man in their lives.
The tension begins to build when Sawyer’s interview seems to end on a sour note without much information but with a hint of some problem or scandal in 1925. With elements of Prohibition, Al Capone, Jim Crow Laws, and women of color struggling to carve out a career, this book promises to be very interesting historic fiction. I hope to win an ARC and read the rest of the book!