THE GIRLS AT THE KINGFISHER CLUB
By 1927 there were twelve girls who danced all night and never gave names, but by then the men had given up asking and called them all Princess.
The men would have called them anything they wanted to be called, Dollface or Queenie or Beloved, just to get one girl on the dance floor for a song. But in that flurry of short dresses and white skin and ribbon-tied shoes, Princess was the name that suited; it seemed magical enough, like maybe it was true.
Wild things, these girls; wild for dancing. They could go all night without sitting, grabbing at champagne between songs, running to the throng at the table and saying something that made them all laugh, light and low together like the parts of a chorus.
It wasn’t right, all those women sticking together so close. Something about the wall of bob-haired girls scared the men, though they hardly knew it. They just knew they’d better dance their best with a Princess, and no mistake…
Jo, the firstborn, “The General” to her eleven sisters, is the only thing the Hamilton girls have in place of a mother. She is the one who taught them how to dance, the one who gives the signal each night, as they slip out of the confines of their father’s Manhattan townhouse and into the cabs that will take them to the speakeasy, from Salon Renaud to the Swan and, finally, the Kingfisher, the club they’ve come to call home. They dance until one night when they are caught in a raid, separated, and Jo is thrust face-to-face with someone from her past: a bootlegger named Tom whom she hasn’t seen in almost ten years. Suddenly Jo must balance not only the needs of her father and eleven sisters, but her own as well.
LIBRARY JOURNAL: Starred Review
NPR: “But even more than the characters, their voices or the sharp, quiet slicing of the understated prose, what I loved about this book was its own tense dance with its source materials.”
The Washington Post: “Genevieve Valentine weaves a mesmerizing, surreal retelling of ‘The Twelve Dancing Princesses’.”
RT BOOK REVIEWS: “As vibrant and colorful as the era — so evocative, well drawn, well cast and well played that readers will be enthralled.”
HISTORICAL NOVEL SOCIETY: “Valentine’s novel has glamour in spades, evocative of the Jazz Age’s fashions and dance crazes and the dark side of prohibition.”
Locus: “…a haunting fable that reads like a dream of forgotten history.”