Genre: historical fiction / My rate: 3 stars
America in the 1920s: the wild fun of jazz, the Prohibition and the speakeasies, and a new kind of woman—the flapper.
Vera Abramowitz, 18 years old, is determined to leave her gritty childhood behind and live a more exciting life at its full; being a typist of an insurance firm and also a telephone operator is not enough.
Vera falls into a dangerous love triangle, being undecided between Shep Green, a handsome nightclub owner involved with Al Capone’s rival gang called “The North Side Gang” and Tony Liolli, a sexy gambler and man of Al Capone.
Through them, she gains entrée into a world filled with bootleg bourbon, wailing jazz, and money to burn. This leads to her nickname “Dollface”: it was the name frequently given to girlfriends of mobsters in the “roaring” twenties…but she is not aware of this; or maybe she does?
When she opens her eyes to the fact that her man is a mobster is too late and all the glamour comes at a great cost.
Vera is lost in her new home and a gorgeous baby girl after a very quick wedding to Shep, but her denial phase ends with a bang when more murders occur and Shep seems slated to go to jail. It all happens during Chicago’s infamous Beer Wars, a battle Al Capone refuses to lose.
It is a load of crime and violence unlike anything the country has ever seen before.
And as men from both gangs fall around her, Vera must put together the pieces of her shattered life, as Chicago hurtles toward one of the most infamous days in its history, the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.
I can tell a significant amount of research was done including real history and one can tell the author has been living in Chicago, she knows what (and fairly good) she is talking about.
Not just I don’t like any story told in the first person prose, I also strongly disliked when characters (and real people of course) are dependent on others. Such an ambitious and smart girl could have done much more just on her own; surely with more sacrifices and longer years of patience and perseverance, but making it (at any level, even poor) on her own would have been simply admirable.
I like historical fiction, and the 1920s is one of my favorite periods of history, that is why I feel is right to recommend this book. Not strongly though.
It is for the fans of the 1920s like me and readers will find a fair balance of historical details, drama and romance, but at other times there is not enough “meat” in the plot, I mean, not that much I was expecting.
There was potential for a decent story, but the characterization is so poor and flat, none is likable nor interesting, that ruined it all. Especially the main character, Vera, weak and superficial, who doesn’t call for any sympathy, she never really seemed to learn much from her mistakes and she does nothing to change what is falling apart in front of her eyes!
If you love the American drama series “Boardwalk Empire” you will love this book and if making readers dislike the characters is a sign of a good writer, well, maybe I must recommend this book not just for his excellent research and fascinating period of time.
Let’s give it a try 😉
In this picture: the author Renée “The Flapper!” Rosen. Photo credit: Charles Osgood