Reviewed by Kelly Ferjutz
Wow! What a sure-footed debut novel! Furthermore, it’s a book that could be read and enjoyed by anyone–regardless of age or gender or religious beliefs (or non-beliefs.) It’s an entirely unoffensive, enjoyable book. The author says she loves ‘history’ and proves it with her immaculate research. Close your eyes and you can easily imagine you’re in the Chicago of 1928, or in the world-famous glamorous Marshall Field’s Department store.
Of course, if you’re going to the Chicago of 1928, you’ll experience the effects of Prohibition and boot-leggers and other gangsters, plus lots of music. Not just Jazz, but hymns, children’s musical pageants, and much more.
Marjorie Corrigan had been engaged to Jack Lund, but he went off to war in 1918, and didn’t come back. But life goes on, and she subsequently becomes engaged to a physician in her small home-town of Kerrysville, still within the state of Illinois, but separated by miles and years and society. She works in her father’s dry goods shop, until that is, she begins to faint with no provocation. Her doctor thinks she’s fine, but recommends a specialist in Chicago. Given her mother’s early death from a heart condition, Marjorie’s father supports this notion, so off to Chicago she goes!
She is determined not to fall into bad habits but just getting off the train sets off a string of events that puzzle her, while awakening a sense of curiosity and adventure that she didn’t know she possessed. One of the first persons she sees in the station is a man who is an absolute double of Jack. But how can that be? After the doctor visit is out of the way, and all is well physically, she decides to stay in the big city for a while. Thus she meets Dee Rodgers, a sales clerk at the huge Field’s store, and before she knows which way is up, Marjorie is also a sales clerk at the store, and rooming with Dee!
Dee is the perfect prototype of the word ‘flapper’. She wears make-up! And short skirts! And has her hair bobbed! She even sings Torch Songs at a speakeasy on weekends! Eegads! Marjorie resists the lure of that sort of behavior while secretly longing for more adventure in her life.
Eventually, she gets more adventure than she bargained for, even while breaking off her engagement, and working at the store, where she utilizes her life-long love of fabrics to create attractive displays that bring her to the attention of the Manager of the store!
This is rightly labeled as ‘Christian’ fiction, but in all honesty, I did not find that aspect at all intrusive into this story. At that time, organized religion was much more a part of everyone’s lives, so it seemed reasonable to me. I especially enjoyed the historical aspects of Chicago and even more the life the author gave to the store! My first job while in high school, was in Detroit’s version of Field’s – the J. L. Hudson Company – and I could readily identify with Marjorie’s wonderment at the complicated aura of the store and the layers and layers of rigmarole that made it all appear so effortless!
There is much more to the story, but suffice it to say that beginning the book at bed-time, I thought I’d read for a few minutes and then turn out the light. To my surprise, when I looked at the clock, more than an hour had passed without my notice! No regrets, either. I hope there will be more books from this talented new author!
First and foremost, Kelly is a reader, then a writer and editor. She adores Regency-set novels, and cozy mysteries. Every now and then, however, she finds something else to enjoy if it has a great premise with characters who belong in there, and fabulous writing! She writes under her own name, as well as her pen-name, Hetty St. James.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Smitten Historical Romance. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.