Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Booking Mamas' February Meeting

Summary: New York Times bestselling author Beatriz Williams recreates the New York City of A Certain Age in this deliciously spicy adventure that mixes past and present and centers on a Jazz Age love triangle involving a rugged Prohibition agent, a saucy redheaded flapper, and a debonair Princetonian from a wealthy family. When she discovers her husband cheating, Ella Hawthorne impulsively moves out of their SoHo loft and into a small apartment in an old Greenwich Village building. Her surprisingly attractive new neighbor, Hector, warns her to stay out of the basement at night. Tenants have reported strange noises after midnight—laughter, clinking glasses, jazz piano—even though the space has been empty for decades. Back in the Roaring Twenties, the place hid a speakeasy.

In 1924, Geneva "Gin" Kelly, a smart-mouthed flapper from the hills of western Maryland, is a regular at this Village hideaway known as the Christopher Club. Caught up in a raid, Gin becomes entangled with Prohibition enforcement agent Oliver Anson, who persuades her to help him catch her stepfather Duke Kelly, one of Appalachia’s most notorious bootleggers.

Headstrong and independent, Gin is no weak-kneed fool. So how can she be falling in love with the taciturn, straight-arrow Revenue agent when she’s got Princeton boy Billy Marshall, the dashing son of society doyenne Theresa Marshall, begging to make an honest woman of her? While anything goes in the Roaring Twenties, Gin’s adventures will shake proper Manhattan society to its foundations, exposing secrets that shock even this free-spirited redhead—secrets that will echo from Park Avenue to the hollers of her Southern hometown.

As Ella discovers more about the basement speakeasy, she becomes inspired by the spirit of her exuberant predecessor, and decides to live with abandon in the wicked city too. . . . -- William Morrow

Last night, we met to discuss THE WICKED CITY by Beatriz Williams. I am a huge fan of Ms. Williams' and I couldn't wait to read her latest historical fiction novel. As is the case with most of Ms. Williams' books, THE WICKED CITY told the stories of two women in totally different time periods whose lives were tied together by a building that housed a secret speakeasy back in the jazz age. For the most part, everyone that read the novel agreed that it was an entertaining book.

One thing that stood out to a few of our members was Ms. Williams' writing. She has a unique way with words and dialogue, and it was fun to see how she captured the essence of the Jazz Age. She also moved back and forth between the present and past quite well, and we liked how she tied the characters together.

We also appreciated the main characters in the novel. I especially enjoyed the character development of Gin, a young woman who grew up in the mountains of West Virginia. She tried to recreate herself when she hit New York City (aka The Wicked City), and I thought Ms. Williams did a great job in balancing her old life with her new one.

Overall, THE WICKED CITY was a popular pick, and I think more than a few members of my group will read additional Beatriz Williams' novels... especially after I talked up so many of them!

I'd like to thank the team at William Morrow for selecting The Booking Mamas as a Book Club Girl Book Club for 2016. We were honored to be chosen and we had a fabulous time reading the books and discussing them!

Next month we will be reading COMMONWEALTH by Ann Patchett. Needless to say, I'm super excited to read this one. You really can't go wrong with an Ann Patchett novel. She has the amazing ability to take on complex themes and characters while also writing beautifully.

Summary: The acclaimed, bestselling author—winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize—tells the enthralling story of how an unexpected romantic encounter irrevocably changes two families' lives.

One Sunday afternoon in Southern California, Bert Cousins shows up at Franny Keating's christening party uninvited. Before evening falls, he has kissed Franny's mother, Beverly—thus setting in motion the dissolution of their marriages and the joining of two families.

Spanning five decades, Commonwealth explores how this chance encounter reverberates through the lives of the four parents and six children involved. Spending summers together in Virginia, the Keating and Cousins children forge a lasting bond that is based on a shared disillusionment with their parents and the strange and genuine affection that grows up between them.

When, in her twenties, Franny begins an affair with the legendary author Leon Posen and tells him about her family, the story of her siblings is no longer hers to control. Their childhood becomes the basis for his wildly successful book, ultimately forcing them to come to terms with their losses, their guilt, and the deeply loyal connection they feel for one another.

Told with equal measures of humor and heartbreak, Commonwealth is a meditation on inspiration, interpretation, and the ownership of stories. It is a brilliant and tender tale of the far-reaching ties of love and responsibility that bind us together. -- Harper


bermudaonion said...

I'm glad to see it was a hit - I think I'd like it too.

Laura at Library of Clean Reads said...

I liked this one from Beatriz Williams too and agree that she has such witty dialogue in her books!

ChaosIsAFriendOfMine said...

I haven't read Beatriz Williams before - this one sounds good.

Elizabeth said...

Great to hear you had a good discussion.

Love her books.

Thanks for sharing.