This year, people have been buzzing about Genevieve Valentine’s new book, The Girls at the Kingfisher Club.
When I first heard about a retelling of the twelve dancing princesses, set in Jazz Age New York, I was totally onboard. It wasn’t until I started the book that I realized how heartbreaking the story of the twelve dancing princesses really is. They are trapped in their home, never allowed to leave. They live in fear of a father they hardly know. For some reason I was expecting a lighthearted children’s tale. The plot of this book was a winding narrative filled with fears and, ultimately, hopes. Much like the streets of New York, where it was set, there were broad, wide avenues sparkling with wit and fun, but there were also dark alleyways filled with danger and mystery.
All twelve sisters are featured in the story, but the main character is Jo, the eldest. Nicknamed the General, she rallies her eleven younger sisters, caring for them, and sneaking them out at night to go dancing. Through the story you get to know Jo well. Her character development was great. The other sisters played more supporting roles, and their storylines didn’t get as much detail. I appreciated that Valentine gave each girl a personality, with individual hopes and dreams, but twelve characters were a lot to keep up with at times. The four oldest sisters were about all I managed to know well. Everyone else I kept getting mixed up. I sympathized with Jo, having so many people to keep track of.
Ultimately, this was an enjoyable book with plenty of exciting scenes of dancing in the nightclubs, etc. There was more conflict and plot than I originally anticipated, and a pack of characters, but the appeal of a princess story set in the jazz Age was certainly still there. If you are accustomed to a darker, more adult novel, and like dancing or the 1920’s, this is a good read for you.