Wild Women and the Blues by Denny S. Bryce—is a book ideal for lovers of lite historical novels with a multifaceted heroine. It is an excellent depiction of African Americans living in Chicago in the 1920s, during the peak of the Jazz Age, in all of its vividness and grandeur. The narrative is presented in two timeframes separated by over a century.
The first thing that drove me to read this book was its cover. I mean, have you looked at it? It was practically calling for me to come and read it when I was passing by the bookstore! I know it’s the author’s debut novel, but I must tell you that it didn’t seem like it at all. She has done a fantastic job, and I didn’t regret giving it a read.
We follow Sawyer Hayes, a film student who is having difficulty adjusting to life after losing a close family member. The tale of Honoree Dalcour takes place in Chicago at the height of the Jazz Age, when criminals threatened to rule the city and black Chicagoans went out to dance and mingle. A chorus girl and a film student grapple with loss, forgiveness, and love, in all its joy, grief, and imperfections, as their tales interweave almost a century separated in a moving and well-researched novel of Chicago’s Jazz Age.
I’ve told you a few things about the book as above, but I’m pretty sure it’s not enough to lure you into reading it. So, why don’t we move a little further and go on to know more and more about this book?
Wild Women and The Blues by Denny S. Bryce | Book Review
It’s time to get to know a little about the author and the book itself.
Denny S. Bryce
In Uhrichsville, Ohio, Denny S. Bryce was born in the United States. She has won accolades for her writing and has advanced to the RWA Golden Heart® finals twice for her book Wild Women and the Blues.
The former expert dancer is a public affairs expert who has spent more than two decades operating her marketing and event management agency. She also writes for NPR Books and FROLIC Media. She frequently speaks at author events and is a member of the Historical Novel Society, Women’s Fiction Writers Association, and Novelists, Inc.
She presently resides in Savannah, Georgia. However, she was born and raised in Chicago.
About the Book | Wild Women and The Blues by Denny S. Bryce
Full Title: Wild Women and the Blues
Author: Denny S. Bryce
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publishing Date: 30 March 2021
As a chorus girl and a film student grapple with grief, tolerance, and affection in all its pleasure, anguish, and faults, two stories that are nearly a century apart converge in a moving and meticulously documented story of Jazz-age Chicago.
The story does a masterful job of fusing essential issues, such as prejudice, unemployment, and lawlessness. It also discusses the limitations of depression and the situation of Black people throughout the Roaring Twenties and Sawyer’s era.
However, it is also a fun tale. It features a crime story following the horrible murder of a Black man and a shady affair between Honoree and a close friend.
Book Summary | Wild Women and The Blues by Denny S. Bryce
In 2015, film student Sawyer Hayes, who is still in shock following a heartbreaking loss that has brought him to the brink, visits 110-year-old Honoree Dalcour at her bedside. All of Sawyer’s faith is in this frail but strong woman, the last survivor of the great Oscar Micheaux. If she can fill in gaps in his study and he is correct, he might be able to finish his thesis and make a fresh start in his life. But he is surprised by the links Honoree provides.
The Dreamland Café was the fanciest black-and-tan club in town in 1925 when Chicago was the global jazz hub. Honoree Dalcour is the daughter of a sharecropper who is ready to labour tirelessly and dance every night to succeed. Dreamland provides a way to a great life, where one can mingle with famous people like Oscar Micheaux and Louis Armstrong. However, Chicago is also rife with criminals, illegal betting, and alcohol. Furthermore, an ambitious young lady can take risks above her capacity for loss.
Sawyer battles tenaciously to protect his secret as Honoree slowly exposes her past and hers. It’s a tale of bravery, aspiration, sizzling jazz, and forbidden desires. And as the past and the present collide, Honoree has one last right to be heard and seen clearly before it becomes too late, at any cost.
My Takeaway From the Book | Wild Women and The Blues by Denny S. Bryce
The story does a masterful job of fusing essential issues, such as racism, deprivation, and lawlessness. It also discusses the limitations of depression and the situation of Black people throughout the Roaring Twenties and Sawyer’s era. It shows that racism was and, in some sense, still is prevalent, and people still need to voice the horror by bringing it to public attention.
Just like this book is doing by making people aware of the social issues while providing an exciting storyline alongside.
The personality of Honoree is attractive. Despite having had a strict upbringing, she has ambition and a strong sense of self. Florence Mills and Josephine Baker influence her; despite her stern attitude, she is committed to the people she considers her friends. She associates herself with distinctive individuals.
This subtly gives out a concise, sweet, and in some way, cliché message of being positive and keeping the hope up as everything is going to be okay.
You will get what you want, and you will be able to live normally if you don’t love your positivity and don’t give in to the darkness, no matter how hard life makes for you.
What do I Think of the Book? Wild Women and The Blues by Denny S. Bryce
One of the critical factors that caught my attention about this book was its lovely cover. Despite the shortcomings listed below, the author’s writing is generally rich and sophisticated while yet being accessible for a debut novel.
Honoree’s character was my favourite. She is a modern-day female pioneer. She is driven, focused, and determined to forge her path in life due to the challenges she faced as a child. She decides to stay in the community and the life she’s made after seeing an important occurrence, notwithstanding its risk. She also acts honourably toward other characters throughout the book. She offers sanctuary, seeks redress, and makes demands for justifications.
Honoree, however, is not without faults. She frequently finds herself in precarious circumstances due to her obstinate determination and must rely on her lover and friends to save her. The Honoree is a compelling, well-rounded character altogether.
I didn’t particularly appreciate that I didn’t understand Honoree’s future behaviour. She is irritable, just as demanding as Sawyer, and stubborn in her ways. The difference between the Honoree of 1925 and 2015 was immediately apparent. Usually, I like alternate timelines. However, I thought the 2015 timeline was utterly unnecessary in this case.
Also, it mentions string themes like rape, loss of a sibling, murder, gang violence, and unwanted pregnancy, so readers’ discretion is strongly required.
I would give this book a rating of 4 out of 5 stars, which is pretty impressive for a debut novel.
Conclusion | Wild Women and the Blues by Denny S. Bryce
The quest for a long-lost heritage and dazzling, glamorous Chicago is brilliantly portrayed in this story. The narrative not only takes place over several eras but also accurately captures each with all of its characteristics.
I personally thought the narrative was fantastic and strongly suggest reading it. Pick up this book if you enjoy reading historical fiction and modern stories that follow people’s lives.
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