Family Drama / Romance
USA Kansas City
‘The Roaring Twenties. Kansas City. One woman's transformative journey of love, betrayal, and redemption. From the day Jean Ball lands a job at the elegant Empire hotel, she quickly learns the secrets of the entitled class. Dazzled by a Roaring Twenties society on the cusp of radical change, this naive and innocent young woman finds herself dancing, bobbing her hair, and falling for Elden Whitcomb, the handsome son of the wealthy hotel owner. The stakes rise when the Whitcombs’ powerful secrets are revealed and loving Elden comes at a price – one that may be too high for Jean to pay. Shattered and alone, Jean's in the battle of her life in a city alive with romance, smoky Speakeasies, jazz music and scandal, but divided by race and class. With the help and encouragement of influential women, Jean may find what she has always needed, though her choices could echo through generations. But will the man she trusted and so fiercely loves redeem himself?’
I found the culture and the historical identity of Kansas City in the ‘20s fascinating – not least because in my naievity as a Brit I had always thought of Kansas as the place where the Yellow Brick Road led to Oz and tornadoes swept the land leaving everything flattened, (such is the fictional influence of the movies!) I did not even realise that Kansas City is on the border of Missouri and Kansas (I had to look at Google Maps.) But that is one of the delights of reviewing a novel I perhaps would not have otherwise picked up –discovering a new and unfamiliar location was an utter delight!
Added to the welcome and interesting personal geography lesson, was a superb story of a young woman’s journey from almost childlike innocence to full womanhood. We journeyed with her through the start of the jazz age, prohibition, the imbalance of poverty and wealth, prejudice, and the enormous changes that occurred during the years of the ‘20s. Jean, the lead character, falls in love, is betrayed and struggles, but survives. This is a story of the hopes, dreams and traumas we all face, the author skilfully brings her fictional character’s experiences vividly to life, creating a very believable and enjoyable tale. What’s more, this is a debut novel – so an author to watch, I think
© Ellen Hill
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