Wild Women and the Blues

Kensington. Mar. 2021. 352p. ISBN 9781496730084. pap. $15.95. F
DEBUT In 1925 Chicago, Honoree Dalcour’s hard work and skills as a dancer and a dressmaker help her move up from a sketchy speakeasy to the refined Dreamland Café, a club frequented mostly by people of color, where she catches the eye of important people like jazz pianist Lil Hardin Armstrong and her husband Louis, and dreams of appearing on the New York City stage. In 2015, documentary filmmaker Sawyer Hayes is in Chicago for the sole purpose of interviewing the centenarian about her experience with legendary Black filmmaker Oscar Micheaux. Miss Honoree agrees to an interview, only to ask Sawyer about his life and family instead. Honoree’s past involves Sawyer’s grandmother, but the details are a mystery to Sawyer. Denny did her research and it shows: she accurately includes notable historical figures within the story line and provides a list of additional titles for further reading. The small details describing the experience of a Black Chicagoan in the 1920s (from dress and entertainment to slang and the sense of community) create a vivid background for this cast of engaging characters. The slowly revealed mysterious connections between families tie the book’s two time periods together.
VERDICT Readers looking for solid historical fiction or complicated relationships, or to gain new insights into underrepresented points of view, will enjoy this book.
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