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“I'm completely confident in stating, without an ounce of hyperbole, that this is the best fairy tale retelling I've ever read... The beating heart of this book is a love of dance and a love of sisters.... 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... There is so much more I want to say about this book: about the ways in which women protect and support each other; about the way they feel like antidotes to The Great Gatsby's brittle ciphers; about the pitch-perfect dialogue; about the dancing. I can't stop re-reading this book for the dancing and the fierce, scalding love the sisters have for it." -- NPR
“As sharp, sophisticated and refreshing as a flute of champagne, Genevieve Valentine’s The Girls at the Kingfisher Club will make you want to strap on dancing shoes and find an all-night speakeasy to call your own.... Ms. Valentine said, in one of the effective parenthetical asides that dot the novel, that 'some stories worked better if they weren’t true.' But this story, whimsical as it sounds on the surface, rings true in all the ways that count.” ― Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“Dressed up in the thrill and sparkle of the Roaring Twenties, the classic fairy tale of 'The Twelve Dancing Princesses' has never been more engrossing or delightful. Valentine's fresh, original style and choice of setting make this a fairy tale reimagining not to be missed.” ― Library Journal (starred review)
“The novel shines… The Girls at the Kingfisher Club is like a jittery Charleston—loose, fast, and fun.” ― Booklist
"Valentine’s creative retelling of “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” is as vibrant and colorful as the era — so evocative, well drawn, well cast and well played that readers will be enthralled. This is a story of sisterhood, a passion for freedom and love that will resonate with many women. The novel calls readers to cheer on these girls as they strive for independence, and Valentine’s ability to make them each distinct and appealing sets this tale apart. Simply a delight to read!" ― Romantic Times, 4 1/2 stars
"This unexpected fairytale, deftly shifted into the age of prohibition, becomes a gorgeous and bewitching novel." -- Scott Westerfeld, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Uglies and Afterworlds
“Delightful and suspenseful by turns, this story of tyranny, pluck, fierce love and even fiercer responsibility is set in a New York of spangles and speakeasies, fox-trots and Charlestons. Valentine retains the shimmer and shadows of the fairytale that underlies her novel, even as she transforms it.” -- Christina Schwarz, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Drowning Ruth
"Valentine’s novel has glamour in spades, evocative of the Jazz Age’s fashions and dance crazes and the dark side of prohibition." ― Historical Novel Society
“Valentine raises the novel above the ordinary...Impressive." ― The New York Times
About the Author
- ASIN : 1476739099
- Publisher : Washington Square Press; Reprint edition (June 30, 2015)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 288 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9781476739090
- ISBN-13 : 978-1476739090
- Item Weight : 8.8 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.31 x 0.9 x 8.25 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,413,230 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Some of the girls are living in a historical story, where they are the product of their society and their times. Some of them are us, with our modern attitudes toward men and what we can do. And one of them is Jo, who is beautifully iconoclastic because she was raised by wolves, or a set of strict governesses, but the effect is the same, to make her hyper-aware of the rules and give not one shiny copper penny for them, except in terms of consequence. She is not ruled by shame, she is ruled by fear, and once she loses that fear, all gell breaks loose. I loved that so much.
I have always thought that any number of siblings over 2 is going to involve factionalism and clicques, as well as familial understanding and love. I liked that we got a chance to see how that played out. I was also really interested in how very much Jo was like her father, but then decided to turn that same tendency into something so much lovelier and more productive.
I am super impressed at Valentine's ability to take a fairy story and retain all the elements, but change them enough to make them her story, not jut a colored-in photocopy. I said, 10 years ago, that it was going to be interesting to watch the writers who were growing up on Datlow and Windling and what happened to their take on mytheopia once everyone calmed down a bit about telling fairy tales and stopped putting quite so many lakes of blood in them (on my reader now, Ursula Vernon's [book:Toad Words and Other Stories|22877105], which I suspect will be interesting as a comparative point and also awesome). Valentine's New York is neither UBER GRITTY DARK nor a friendly woodland forest, but a real-feeling place with police raids, payoffs, handsy stevedores and Chinese bartenders.
I suggest people with super controlling parents in real life read this story with caution. Valentine does not pull punches on how very bad it can/could get if your parent is willing to retain control at any cost. I was honestly reading with my heart thudding because it was so plausible that everything would go wrong at several points in the story.
This book keeps lingering with me, like sparkles rubbed off after a night of clubbing will still be around the next Wednesday, just catching your eye a tiny bit.
Read if: You like gin joints, dancing, retold fairy tales, and problematized ever-afters.
Skip if: You don't like reading about people being caged up, you have problems with mental commitment as a control device.
Read also: Princess of the Midnight Ball, for another version of this story that is a little more castle-and-princess-magicy, but still has great dancing descriptions and a clear personality for each princess.
Sold for Endless Rue, which it took me a while to realize was even a retold fairy tale.
What I look for in historical book (romance or not romance) is to transport me into another time - I do care about settings of the book. I felt like I was transported in New York of the twenties, where cruel father decided that all of his daughters should be seen as less as possible and for years pretty much not seen at all. But in many ways thanks to the oldest daughter Jo aka "the General" they all learned how to dance and they all had been sneaking away to dance at night for years as their only chance to be outside till Daddy dear decided it is time to marry them off or worse.
As much as I loved the settings I think the main reason I loved this book is because it is about genuine bonds of sisterhood. I never doubted the love between the girls and even if some of them were afraid of Jo they loved her too. Jo was definitely the most well portrayed sister, personality wise - flawed and all, but decent and likeable, however while I cannot say that all twelve had distinct personalities, the most impressive was at least five or six more were distinguishable from others.
There is a romantic story too for some of the sisters (but NOT all) and it is low key. I liked it that way, it suited the book perfectly.
Top reviews from other countries
Wish, it would go on forever and ever!
A fairy tale in New York- with 12 lovely princesses dancing straight into your heart and mind!
Very well written!
Totally smitten with this book!