- Hardcover: 432 pages
- Publisher: Greenwillow Books (September 19, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0062560921
- ISBN-13: 978-0062560926
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.3 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 44 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #648,532 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Speak Easy, Speak Love Hardcover – September 19, 2017
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“Speak Easy, Speak Love is a book nerd’s dream. With the vivid hedonism of the 1920s, a cast of exquisitely drawn characters (with snappy chemistry, and sexual tension that makes you want to smash their faces together), and wit to rival Will himself...loving, fresh, and unputdownable.” (Mackenzi Lee, author of the New York Times–bestselling The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue)
“Deliciously enjoyable...This is sure to delight fans of Anna Godberson’s Bright Young Things and Shakespeare’s writings alike, leaving a taste for much more of the Roaring Twenties and much more from George.” (Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA))
“The vibrant, dangerous atmosphere of a Roaring Twenties speakeasy is clever setting for this debut, a reimagining of Much Ado about Nothing. ...for fans of an enemies-to-lovers romance, this biting comedy is always a classic.” (Booklist)
“George adeptly captures Shakespeare’s witty characters and transplants them to the 1920s . . . and cleverly incorporates all the romantic misunderstandings among the well-rounded characters. The time period is accurately portrayed...this retelling is witty and clever.” (School Library Journal)
“Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing bears up uncannily well . . . readers will be fully immersed in the excitement, glamour, and danger of a culture tipping into rebellion and making way for change in more ways than one.” (Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books)
About the Author
McKelle George hated reading Shakespeare in high school. But then she spent a summer abroad seeing productions at Stratford-upon-Avon and the Globe in London. She fell in love with all the different ways the same play could be interpreted. She now lives in Salt Lake City, where she mentors young writers with Salt Lake Teens Write and works as an editor and reference librarian. Speak Easy, Speak Love is her first novel. www.mckellegeorge.com
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I first fell in love with the cover of this book and then I fell in love with the words that make up this amazingly told retelling of Much Ado About Nothing. Speak Easy, Speak Love is set during the 1920’s in New York… a time of prohibition and secret clubs called Speakeasy’s, mobsters and bootlegging, and all make for an entertaining and captivating read that I couldn’t put down.
The story itself revolves around six teens whose lives tangle one fateful summer. Told from three points of views (Beatrice, Benedick, and Maggie) I found myself so invested in their fates and the amazing, layered, stories that made up each of their arrivals and time at Hey Nonny Nonny that even when I turned the last page, I wanted more.
George’s writing was just lovely… I loved how she captured the feel of the time period and I couldn’t get enough of delving into the 1920’s. She took me back to the jazz age with her gorgeous writing and I found myself slowing down just to immerse myself in her words and sentences… going back to read them again and again and highlighting so much that just struck me.
“Maggie got a bit closer until she was able to just see into the room. Prince stood at his window in slacks and an undershirt, the smoke of the cigarette between his fingers drifting our through the open crack.”
I cheered for each character in this book… from Prince, to Maggie, to John, to Hero… I loved them all, but I was especially enamored with Benedick and Beatrice. The banter was so fun and witty and seeing these two people from two different worlds find a common thread among the people they cared for was lovely.
"Miss Clark," he said, "have we just made the hard turn from enemies into friends?"
"I'd like that," she said. "If you don't mind being wrong and inferior most of the time because that's not something I can help."
I just couldn’t get enough of Beatrice and her solid acceptance of who she is… no trying to change just to gain the acceptance of those around her. When she & Benedick butted heads I loved the quick witted banter… when they supported each other, I loved the quiet way they connected. The end of the story was absolute perfection for me.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention John and Maggie. I loved them and I cheered for them and the situation they are in. Their relationship was heartbreaking at times, but ultimately uplifting and so beautiful.
I also have to mention the research that George did on this book – It’s apparent in every description, and detail and once you read the Author’s Note at the end of the book I think you’ll be blown away to see how she tailored this story. I definitely was and I am so excited to put a copy on my bookshelf. I’m also very excited to see what she writes next.
If you’re looking for something that perfectly captures the spirit of Much Ado About Nothing, with amazing crafted characters, and a unique setting and plot then I highly recommend Speak Easy, Speak Love.
An e-galley was provided by HarperCollins via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: If this is your first time reading one of my reviews, you may not know how much I love Shakespeare retellings. But I do, so Speak Easy, Speak Love was absolutely one of my most-anticipated books of 2017.
The beginning was a little rough, but stick with this book, and it'll smooth out for a strong middle and end.
The fact that Benedick and Beatrice had no prior history and didn't hate each other to begin with kind of ruins the fun of the plot, although the scene where they dance at the Masquerade is well done. It's reminiscent of Shakespeare's without being too derivative. And I liked how their relationship progressed, and they were both able to pursue their dreams. I did appreciate how the author played with the plot surrounding Hero. She, like Lily Anderson in her Much Ado About Nothing retelling The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You, changes the plot so it causes just a little less drama, although there's definitely still slut-shaming. Speaking of Hero, her personality really bursts off the pages. She was vibrant and lovely and not so meek as other interpretations of Hero, but just as much of a Hufflepuff. I also really liked Prince/Pedro in this adaptation, and I thought the author did a good job of incorporating Verges and Dogberry.
Other little things I liked: how the chapter titles are quotes from Much Ado About Nothing, how Benedick's dad was impressed by Beatrice, the accurate time period references.
There's underage drinking, of course (this is a Prohibition era novel). The s-word was used a few times.
The Verdict: Didn't quite live up to my expectations, but it was still a fun read.
I know "Much Ado" well, considering the fact that I was in it (as Hero), and I appreciated the obvious references like Hey Nonny Nonny, and the more subtle ones, like the conversation about Maggie not being a maid. The orchard scene with Beatrice and Benedick was perfection. It was just all so clever and the history was interwoven so subtlety, and that was impressive in itself. I was astounded reading through the author's note how much of the content I thought was from the play was actually also history. While respecting Shakespeare, the book took a life of its own and 1920s New York added to it--the time period and setting wasn't gimmicky, but rather endearing.
I liked how we never got the guys' POVs, other than Benedick, so it wasn't for sure who the inevitable couples would be. I liked that some of the plot points from the play were switched around to act more realistically, like people recognizing each other behind masks and not making Hero as innocent so that it was more believable that she was unfaithful.
I just loved all of this story, so much.
I am so excited to read more from McKelle George, and I ardently hope I don't have to wait forever. But I would.