WILD WOMEN AND THE BLUES
REVIEWER: Brenda Larnell RATING: A
REVIEW: I am a fan of African American Historical Fiction. Author, Denny S. Bryce has successfully fused one of my favorite historical eras, the 1920’s, with a storyline that smoothly flows between the past and present. WILD WOMEN AND THE BLUES is a foray into Chicago’s Jazz Age of chorus girls, racketeering, prohibition, and gangsters. The reader is introduced to Honoree Dalcour, and Sawyer Hayes, the protagonists who take the reader on a journey that inevitably lays out a multigenerational story.
WILD WOMEN AND THE BLUES offers a dual storyline that effortlessly transports the reader between 1925 to 2015. Ironically, Honoree is alive and present in both storylines. When we meet Miss Dalcour, she is in a senior living facility in Chicago, Illinois, and she is 110 years old. It is through her eyes that we get a riveting account of living, working, and surviving in Chicago in 1925 from a young Black sharecropper’s daughter “accustomed to hard work and hard times”. However, there is no sharecropping in Honoree’s future. On the contrary, she sets her sights on being one of the best chorus girls on the dance stage with hopes of one day headlining in Shuffle Along, the number one all-Negro Broadway musical of the day. Sawyer Hayes is a graduate student, who after finding some old film and pictures that Honoree is featured in, seeks her out to interview her in order to complete his graduate school project. It’s a daunting task, and he hopes Honoree can fill in some gaps that can answer some crucial questions. As the story progresses, the dual storylines slowly merge into one with an outcome that proffers a family tree that spans generations. It’s an “Aha” moment, indeed.
The supporting characters are major players: From Bessie Palmer, a complex side character and Honoree’s best friend; Ezekiel, Honoree’s lover, to Sawyer’s grandmother, Margaret. They all play pivotal roles in this historical story. The scene where Sawyer finally fills in the gaps, and completes his project is epic! Also, be prepared to meet some of the famous denizens of the era like blues singer, Alberta Hunter; Louis Armstrong, the celebrated musician, and his wife, Lil and Oscar Micheaux, the premiere African American filmmaker of the Jazz Age, to name a few.
WILD WOMEN AND THE BLUES is both entertaining and evocative. The historical details of this story include highlights and lowlights of the era, and I recommend it for your reading pleasure.
1st April 2021 | email@example.com