When I received this book for review, I was SO excited. The cover is gorgeous; as I said to my friend Lizzy, if the content was as good as the cover it might earn an elusive space on my bookcase (the alternative cover I’ve seen in NZ stores is pretty stunning too!). The book is also set in the Jazz Age, an era of opulence that I love to read about – I’ve previously enjoyed books like The Paris Wife and Z: A Story of Zelda Fitzgerald. Finally, the blurb teased about a showgirl who wanted to become a doctor – colour me intrigued!
Evie Lockhart doesn’t fit in the box that her parents and her small town are trying to fit her in. She feels that her life is already planned out for her and yet, she feels so unsatisfied. Just as she’s beginning to wonder whether she can settle for her small world, one moment on a walk along the river changes her life. She comes across a girl from school giving birth on the riverbank and in the ensuing tragedy her eyes are opened to a dream that she barely dared admit to herself. I daren’t spoil anything for you, because I really want you to go and read this book, but her subsequent trip to New York City is a life changer.
Evie is SUCH a powerful female character. I admired her so much for pursuing her goals despite overwhelming adversity. She defies the complacency that is the accepted standard for women of the time (and dare I say, somewhat still relevant today) and does what she needs to do to create the world she wants to live in. Natasha Lester has created a complex character that is strong, yet soft; firm, yet gentle and a woman with a social conscience AND a heart filled with dreams.
Lester creates a totally engaging narrative that manages to keep the reader on their toes right until the very end. She’s not afraid to toy with our feelings towards some of our favourite characters. In the end, all the characters are gloriously flawed (including our heroine Evie) and I think that makes it all the more interesting for the reader. Evie, in particular, makes decisions based on the only way forward that she can see – whether that is the only possibility or not – and for right or wrong, follows through on those choices. There’s just something so gritty and real about her that I absolutely love.
Go out, get the book. Whether you’re into Jazz Age stories or not, Evie’s story is one of strength and one I’d recommend to anybody who is or who loves a strong woman.