Start stretching your legs, because you will be dancing along with this jazzy romp through Chicago in the 1920s! But rest assured, despite the gorgeously lush cover, this is no lighthearted jaunt. This novel addresses the very worst of historical big city living, most prominently the insidious example of everyday racism, and perhaps most obviously the inclusion of the mobs that ran Chicago during prohibition.
The story switches perspectives between our two protagonists: Sawyer, a 20-something film maker in 2015 who is doing research for his latest documentary, and Honoree, a young dancer working in the black and tan speakeasies during the Prohibition Era. Both are battling their own histories, and their paths cross during Sawyer’s investigation into a famous filmmaker of the 1920s, who Honoree had a connection within her time as a performer in one of the premier “Cafés” of Chicago.
Despite the phenomenally well-researched history presented throughout the novel, the most compelling element was the character development. Honoree in particular was beautifully rendered as a strong, independent woman who was willing to defy the conventions of the day to achieve her goals. That thread of fierce independence carried through to her present-day conversations with Sawyer, and it made her the heart of the story as her life was uncovered through her retellings and her storyline as a young dancer.
I would highly recommend this novel, not just for historical fiction fans, but for anyone who has ever wondered about the lives of either family or neighbors and wishes to explore the connections that may exist. Of course, you can always get more than you bargained for, but to understand the motivations and lives of those who came before can be a powerful reminder to live our lives to the fullest.