One of our recommended books is Wild Women and the Blues by Denny Bryce

WILD WOMEN AND THE BLUES


Ordinary People meets Chicago the musical as played out in the city’s Black Belt, Wild Women and the Blues is a mainstream historical fiction novel that weaves the stories of a grieving film student in 2015 and an ambitious chorus girl in 1925 in a tale of history, love, and secrets that only family can define.

Jazz-age Chicago comes to vibrant life in Denny S. Bryce’s evocative novel that links the stories of an ambitious 1920’s chorus girl and a modern-day film student, both coming to grips with loss, forgiveness,

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Ordinary People meets Chicago the musical as played out in the city’s Black Belt, Wild Women and the Blues is a mainstream historical fiction novel that weaves the stories of a grieving film student in 2015 and an ambitious chorus girl in 1925 in a tale of history, love, and secrets that only family can define.

Jazz-age Chicago comes to vibrant life in Denny S. Bryce’s evocative novel that links the stories of an ambitious 1920’s chorus girl and a modern-day film student, both coming to grips with loss, forgiveness, and the limitations—and surprises—of love.

“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…

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  • Kensington Books
  • Paperback
  • March 2021
  • 352 Pages
  • 9781496730084

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$15.95

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About Denny S. Bryce

Denny S. Bryce is an award-winning author and three-time RWA Golden Heart® finalist, including twice for Wild Women and the Blues. In addition to writing for NPR Books and FROLIC Media, the former professional dancer is a public relations professional who has spent over two decades running her own marketing and event management firm. A member of the Historical Novel Society, Women’s Fiction Writers Association, and Novelists, Inc., she is a frequent speaker at author events. Originally from Chicago, she now lives in Savannah, Georgia.

Author Website

Praise

TODAY.com Books ‘Bridgerton’ Fans Will Fall In Love With This Valentine’s Day
Ms Magazine Most Anticipated Books of 2021
Marie Claire Must-Read Books by Black Authors
Bustle Most Anticipated Books Of 2021
Parade.com Most Anticipated Books by Women of Color
OprahMag.com Most Anticipated Historical Fiction Novels
SheReads Most Anticipated BIPOC Winter Releases” 2021

“This is the best kind of historical novel: immersive, mysterious and evocative; factual in its history and nuanced in its creativity and connection to the present.” Ms. Magazine

“Perfect…Denny S. Bryce is a superstar!”Julia Quinn, New York Times bestselling author of the Bridgerton series

“Denny did her research and it shows: she accurately includes notable historical figures within the story line and provides a list of additional titles for further reading. The small details describing the experience of a Black Chicagoan in the 1920s (from dress and entertainment to slang and the sense of community) create a vivid background for this cast of engaging characters. The slowly revealed mysterious connections between families tie the book’s two time periods together. VERDICT: Readers looking for solid historical fiction or complicated relationships, or to gain new insights into underrepresented points of view, will enjoy this book.”Library Journal

“The music practically pours out of the pages of Denny S. Bryce’s historical novel, set among the artists and dreamers of the 1920s.”OprahMag.com

“All the glitz and glamour of Jazz Age Chicago, along with all the mob violence, is artfully described by the Bryce in this richly told, historical fiction debut.”Booklist

“The author deftly weaves fiction with reality and paints a vibrant picture of the sparkling yet seedy era…Perfect for fans of light historical fiction led by a complex heroine.”Kirkus

“Immersive and exciting, Denny S. Bryce’s Wild Women and the Blues [is] a vibrant novel that gathers elements of Chicago’s jazz past together.”Foreword Reviews

“Bryce takes readers from Roaring Twenties Chicago to the 21st century, in a riveting tale that speaks of  ambition, forbidden love and courage.” – Palm Beach Post

Wild Women and The Blues weaves together two equally “engaging” stories.”SheReads

Wild Women and the Blues promises to be a brilliant debut, full of atmosphere and wonderfully immersive history.”Cultured Vultures

“This vivid historical novel will satisfy those who were transfixed by Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, the Netflix adaptation of August Wilson’s play. Novelist Bryce, a former marketing executive who now covers books for NPR, takes an original slant to conjure the gritty blues scene of Jazz Age Chicago.”Everything Zoomer

Discussion Questions

1. When was The Jazz Age? Do you have any favorite musicians from the period?

2. Oscar Micheaux was one of several black filmmakers who produced “race films.” These films starred black actors and actresses who portrayed characters that weren’t featured in Hollywood’s racist stereotypes. How do you think the race films of the 1920’s – 1940’s may have set the stage for the Blaxploitation films of the 1970s? (Coffey, Shaft, Cleopatra Jones, Superfly).

3. The music of the Jazz Age is thought to be the soundtrack of the Roaring Twenties. What music forms do you think have defined other generations?

4. Was Honoree Dalcour a “New Negro” or naturally resourceful and stubborn about what she valued about her life in Chicago?

5. How did you feel about Honoree taking in the homeless Bessie Palmer? Was it an act of kindness or frustration with the other chorus girls at Miss Hattie’s Garden Cafe? Toward the end of the novel, did Honoree feel genuine affection for Bessie or more of an obligation to her pregnant roommate?

6. In 2015, Sawyer’s depression was a complicated response to the loss of his sister and his estranged relationship with his father. Why do you think he is so haunted by his sister? Would he be better able to deal with his grief and guilt with a more supportive family?

7. Oscar Micheaux made more than 40 films, though many were lost. One of Micheaux’s films, “Within Our Gates,” was released in 1920 and called by some a response to D.W. Griffith’s “Birth of A Nation,” a film cited as heightening the visibility (and acceptance) of the Klu Klux Klan while promoting a negative image of African Americans. What film(s) would you credit as impacting public opinion about an individual/group or political issue? (Think about the 1936 film “Reefer Madness” or propaganda films of World War II, for example).

Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

SAWYER
Friday, June 5, 2015
Chicago

On the fifth floor of the Bronzeville Senior Living Facility, I stand outside the smallest room in the world, doing my best to ignore the dropped ceiling and square linoleum tiles, stoking my claustrophobia.

No windows. No air. No natural light. Just stark-white walls out of focus like cheesecloth over a camera lens.

The old woman in the bed adds to my anxiety, as does the fact that I’m almost out of cash. But nothing will defeat me. Not this go-round. Not with the help of the old lady in the bed—Honoree Dalcour, my last great hope.

The backpack digs into my shoulder. I check the time on my cell phone, eight hours until my connecting flight to Paris. Six hours (fewer if I take a shuttle back to O’Hare) to coax the 110-year-old woman in the bed (who could die at any second or who could be dead now) into telling me a story to fix my life or more likely help me finish my film project.

You see, I’m a graduate student chasing a doctorate in media studies. My documentary thesis focuses on the legendary Black filmmaker Oscar Micheaux in 1925. The project, however, has a gaping hole, smack in the center. A hole I haven’t thought about in over a year. Not since my sister, Azizi, was killed in a car crash with me behind the wheel.

Fifteen months and a lot of tequila later, I need something normal to aspire to, something ordinary and reasonable like finishing the damn film. God knows, something other than talking to my sister’s ghost, a conversation that unquestionably doesn’t constitute normal, ordinary, or reasonable.