Wild Women and the Blues
By Denny S. Bryce
Brought to you by OBS reviewer Andra
In a stirring and impeccably researched novel of Jazz-age Chicago in all its vibrant life, two stories intertwine nearly a hundred years apart, as a chorus girl and a film student deal with loss, forgiveness, and love…in all its joy, sadness, and imperfections.
“Why would I talk to you about my life? I don’t know you, and even if I did, I don’t tell my story to just any boy with long hair, who probably smokes weed. You wanna hear about me. You gotta tell me something about you. To make this worth my while.”
1925: Chicago is the jazz capital of the world, and the Dreamland Café is the ritziest black-and-tan club in town. Honoree Dalcour is a sharecropper’s daughter, willing to work hard and dance every night on her way to the top. Dreamland offers a path to the good life, socializing with celebrities like Louis Armstrong and filmmaker Oscar Micheaux. But Chicago is also awash in bootleg whiskey, gambling, and gangsters. And a young woman driven by ambition might risk more than she can stand to lose.
2015: Film student Sawyer Hayes arrives at the bedside of 110-year-old Honoree Dalcour, still reeling from a devastating loss that has taken him right to the brink. Sawyer has rested all his hope on this frail but formidable woman, the only living link to the legendary Oscar Micheaux. If he’s right—if she can fill in the blanks in his research, perhaps he can complete his thesis and begin a new chapter in his life. But the links Honoree makes are not ones he’s expecting…
Piece by piece, Honoree reveals her past and her secrets, while Sawyer fights tooth and nail to keep his. It’s a story of courage and ambition, hot jazz and illicit passions. And as past meets present, for Honoree, it’s a final chance to be truly heard and seen before it’s too late. No matter the cost… (Goodreads)
As I explore the world of historical fiction, I came upon Wild Women and the Blues by Denny S. Bryce. What a find. I enjoy the blues and to get a glimpse of its history in story format was good. Mixing my love of reading and music – always a hit. This is the first book I have read by Denny S. Bryce and I am glad of the opportunity to read this enjoyable book.
Wild Women and the Blues is told over a dual time frame – Chicago in the 1920’s (covering the jazz scene) and 2015. Film student Sawyer Hayes has suffered great tragedy in his life and is trying to get back on track with his life…if he could only finish up his graduate thesis which requires some discussions with 110-year-old Honoree Dalcour to fill in some gaps about the legendary Oscar Micheaux. Sawyer must be patient while Honoree tells her tales. Unbeknownst to them, their stories are intertwined. Sawyer believes that among his grandmother’s effects, he finds an Oscar Micheaux film. To corroborate the find, he goes to Chicago to talk with the chorus girl (Honoree) he believes is in the film. Sawyer’s journey is riddled with tragedy and he is literally haunted by this tragedy. I must say that his story, while interesting, was not so compelling nor integral to the story overall. His story was, in my opinion, the catalyst to have Honoree tell her story. Or at least until the end…I won’t say more so that each reader can discover the hidden gems of this story for themselves.
As Honoree tells her story – we are taken through the ups and downs of her journey as she try’s to make it as a dancer/performer. What a tale, which kept me thoroughly engaged throughout. Honoree is trying to make it, but seems that luck and circumstances get in her way…way too often. She is truly a Chicago show girl fighting for her place in the industry. Finding love, losing love, and seeing an event, which back in the day, was way too often shaped Honoree’s path.
I must say that I thought the storytelling was so good that I felt as if I was back in the 1920’s. I love when that happens when I am reading – being totally immersed in the story.I also must say that the cover was so eye catching, I loved it!
If you are a historical fiction reader, then I suggest you pick up Wild Women and the Blues by Denny S. Bryce and set aside some time to really enjoy this fine read.