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Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Girls at the Kingfisher Club- Genevieve Valentine

Jo, the firstborn, "The General" to her eleven sisters, is the only thing the Hamilton girls have in place of a mother. She is the one who taught them how to dance, the one who gives the signal each night, as they slip out of the confines of their father's townhouse to await the cabs that will take them to the speakeasy. Together they elude their distant and controlling father, until the day he decides to marry them all off. 
The girls, meanwhile, continue to dance, from Salon Renaud to the Swan and, finally, the Kingfisher, the club they come to call home. They dance until one night when they are caught in a raid, separated, and Jo is thrust face-to-face with someone from her past: a bootlegger named Tom whom she hasn't seen in almost ten years. Suddenly Jo must weigh in the balance not only the demands of her father and eleven sisters, but those she must make of herself. 
With The Girls at the Kingfisher Club, award-winning writer Genevieve Valentine takes her superb storytelling gifts to new heights, joining the leagues of such Jazz Age depicters as Amor Towles and Paula McClain, and penning a dazzling tale about love, sisterhood, and freedom

When my Boo handed me The Girls at the Kingfisher Club I was apprehensive. I don’t read fiction that much, even though I know I should. I have certain authors and genres I like and that’s that… Then he said the magic words, “It’s a 12 dancing princesses retelling.” I grabbed it straight from his hand and bought it.

I was so not disappointed. This novel takes place during prohibition and is the story of 12 sisters whose father really wanted a boy. Their father has them locked away in the upper floors of their house, has never seen all of them at the same time and doesn’t even recall all their names. Unbeknownst to him they take off at midnight two to three times a week and go dancing at underground clubs where they are called The Princesses, and drink and dance until three or four in the morning.

Jo is the main character, she is the eldest sister and the one they call “The General” she rules her sisters, making sure they have everything they need and takes care of them; she is the one who first teaches them how to dance. The story is primarily told from her POV, though still in third person.  The oldest four sisters are the most flushed out, Lou, Ella and Doris. I have found this to be fairly common in this sort of fairy tale retelling. 12 main characters is a lot in less than 300 pages, usually the younger girls are glossed over a bit in favor of the older and the plot line. This author did a really good job of giving the reader hints of the girl’s personalities without compromising the integrity of the plot with too much description.

There was basically no romance in this novel, the father tries to marry off his daughters, wanting to get rid of them for fear they are ruining his reputation and theirs.  Two girls get married, one is not for love and the love story for the other is there but so hidden within everything else I can’t in good conscience state this is a love story. Jo does fall in love with someone, but again it isn’t even the main plot point.

This novel focuses on their sisterhood and the dancing and how badly they are treated at home, more than any type of romance.

The writing is beautiful and the story was so good I simply couldn’t put the book down until I finished it. I enjoyed the characters, descriptions and plot line immensely.  This book ends happily ever after, but in a very unique way and not campy at all like I was expecting. The only reason it is getting 4.5 instead of 5 was I had a few questions at the end, there were a few things I was confused about, which could have been explained better and it would not have ruined the book.

This was a great book, a lovely adult fairy tale, and not adult like erotica.  So Bright Blessings and happy reading!