Historical Fiction – Chicago 1911
Wow!!! I LOVED this book. It is this author’s debut novel, and I can’t wait to see more from her in the future. It was sweet, exciting, and well-researched historical fiction. I would rank it very high up in my list of favorite historical fictions, actually. I really loved it. The story is loosely based on the C. R. Patterson family. It weaves a lot of important Black history into the story, and is one of those books you could read for fun while still learning a lot, though I would still say romance is central to the story.
SHORT SPOILERY SUMMARY: First, there is Olivia, who is looking for love and ends up in a love triangle. Helen wants to be a mechanic and is on a personal journey. She wants to be respected and valued for more than a pretty face, but things get complicated when she turns her sisters’ love triangle into a love square by falling for Olivia’s suitor. Amy-Rose works for the Davenports, and has big dreams of opening her own salon. And she falls in love with Olivia’ brother, who already has something going on with Oliva’s riches-to-rags BFF Ruby!!! SO. MUCH. DRAMAAA!
I loved Amy-Rose and her love story, hers was my favorite couple, easily! Helen was an awesome SFL and the chapters from her POV were my favorites overall. But, its hard to pick favorites because Olivia was also amazing!! I think Ruby was my least favorite, just because I got jealous-friend-vibes from her near the beginning and I couldn’t shake them off. But it left lots of room for her character to grow, so that was valuable.
I love when authors hide character traits within the characters’ names (the closest word I can find is ‘Euonym‘: a name well suited to the person, place, or thing named. I feel like there is a better literary device for this, if you know it please help me!). I thought it was clever that there was flower imagery in Amy-Rose chapters, gemstone imagery in Ruby chapters, and Olivia gets an olive-branch moment that is super adorable.
Overall I enjoyed Marquis’ writing style. Having four main characters can be a lot to juggle, but each perspective is so different that it makes it really easy to keep them separate in your head. The multiple POV also allowed readers to see the differences in class, the challenging of gender roles, and the difficulty of aquiring and maintaining wealth and status. There were places where I thought the grammar could have been better, and passages that I thought could be reworded for readability, but this copy was just an ARC and those things are usually fixed in final copies. I did think the story moved very fast, and because of the multiple POVs certain characters and relationships could have been fleshed out more. Also, more history!! I selfishly would have loved to this done as a series, but that’s just because I wanted more lol!
I also maintain that this could make a really great show or movie adaptation!
Follow Krystal Marquis on Instagram @krystabelle_reads and @krystalmarquis on Twitter.
Thank you to Penguin Teen for sending me an ARC of this title. All opinions are my own.