I consistently judge a book by its cover. A cover that I find interesting or beautiful or amusing will draw me in as quick as you can say Louie Armstrong. Wild Women and the Blues, a debut novel by Denny S. Bryce, had a beautiful cover. It also had an interesting story that took place in one of time periods I most enjoy reading about.
It’s 1925, and the city of Chicago is lively and catches the spirit of the Jazz Age. Honoree Dalcour comes from the south, and wants to make a name for herself during this period when anything goes. She can sing and dance, and the Dreamland Cafe is where Anyone Who is Anything goes to have fun. It is the largest and most successful black-and-tan venue in the city, which is why she is thrilled to get a dancing gig at the club.
But while the city is alive with music, it is also alive with bootleg liquor and mafioso. Can you say Al Capone?
Fast forward almost a century, and film student Sawyer Hayes is eager to become a household name like his father. His hope is to interview Honoree Dalcour, who is 110 years old and lives in a rest home. Though very old, her mind is still in place. He wants to hear the stories of what life was like when Chicago was at its liveliest. He hopes to be able to connect her to the famous (and real life) film maker, Oscar Micheaux, long deceased.
Though 110 years old and very frail, Honoree has many stories to tell about the shenanigans of that era. And she will only tell the stories to Sawyer, and only at her own pace.
Wild Women and the Blues caught my eye 100 percent because of the spectacularly beautiful cover, I will admit. But the story kept me reading. There were lots of surprises along the way, including a twist at the end that I didn’t see coming. The stories include her best friend Bessie, and the love of her life Ezekiel, who left her inexplicably years before, but has returned. There is romance and mystery and intrigue galore. The author mixes real-life characters with ficticious in a way that makes the novel all the more interesting. All the while, you can practically hear the music playing and smell the cigarette and marijuana smoke and hear the gunfire.
I really enjoyed the book, as well as the cover. And, by the way, there is a scene in the book in which Honoree is wearing the dress displayed on the cover!