Ah the "Roaring Twenties"..this novel set in 1921 is only a few years removed from the tragedy of the First World War but is in many respects light years away socially..if not for African Americans.
The 1920s were a time for new freedoms especially for women including higher hemlines, shorter hair, cocktails and being able to vote..not necessarily in that order. It was also a heady period for the developing American music known as "jazz".
Yet underneath the fizzy era depicted by F. Scott Fitzgerald of bright young things, boom times, flappers and cocktails was a seedy underbelly that viewers of "Boardwalk Empire" may be all too familiar with...prohibition, bootlegging and the rise of the gangster particularly in the midwestern mecca of Chicago where this novel takes place.
Martha Conway's Sugarland immerses the reader into this sparkling but shadowy world through her protagonist an aspiring young pianist Eve Riser, who also happens to be African American and of course a female in a very male dominated sphere. Conway says she was inspired by musicians such as the great Mary Lou Williams and others who held their own against the men creatively but are unless recorded lost to the mists of time.
Eve has her hands full with trying to make her living when she is suddenly witness to not one but two shooting deaths the first perpetrated by her new man saxophonist Gavin Johnson. Escaping with her life and a stack of money foisted upon her she makes her way to Chicago in search of employment and her half sister Chickie, a singer. Further complicating things Chickie is carrying the child of her shady nightclub owner boyfriend who also happens to be white.
Caught in the crossfire of another shooting outside Cobb's club , Eve joins forces with Lena sister of the victim Rudy. Her nursing skills come in handy for Eve and Chickie and their common love of jazz and quest for the identity of her brothers killer plunges them in the dangerous world of gun running and bootlegging where everyone is suspect.
The author's characters are richly drawn and her description of the "conversation" onstage between musicians is beautifully evoked. The current running underneath is the ever present racism and descrimination many of the characters face at every turn sadly not something limited to the distant past. But lest it all seem so bleak there are rays of hope - there is even time for some romance between Eve and supportive bandleader Henry. Eve is a great character and I look forward to a sequel or two....
Thursday, September 17, 2015
Here are a few photos of one of the hallmarks of the architecture of that city - the work of Antonio Gaudi.
There are fine examples of his work throughout the city including a park and the famous Sagrada Familia cathedral..
Since we had explored a lot of central Barcelona on foot before we decided on one of the hop on/hop off bus tours which would take us further afield
We had a lovely dinner at a restaurant down in the seaside area "La Barcelonetta" - then it was time to say goodbye to our fellow travellers and take the train down to Madrid to pick up our rental car.
|Chanel and Monique|
|Our meal - we also had wine AND sangria.|
This is the outer walled of the famed city of Toledo - a Unesco World Heritage site...it was a bit of a steep climb but worth it to check out this well preserved Medieval city. We stayed some distance away but had a view of it from our window..
We also bought some delicious chocolate and the specialty of the area..marzipan made with "almendras" there's a Spanish word I remember.
Although we were behind a couple of hours due to the key mishap - we still had a lot of time to explore the fabulous city of Granada. We stayed at the charming Hotel Anacapri - another Rick Steves recommendation. It certainly was a challenge manoeuvreing the vehicle in the narrow streets and then finding parking...next time - no car...however it does make it easier to travel Andalusia
|A gazpacho like soup with avocado - yum.|
|A square near our hotel...and down the street from Hicuri|
You can read up yourself on the history of the Alhambra - just know that it's a fort/castle/garden and so much more. The Muslims or Moors as they were know were in Spain for 7 centuries and during that time as rulers were far more tolerant of other religions than Ferdinand and Isabella who came after them...
After feeling relieved and getting the necessary meds we returned to the hotel for a rest and then it was out to dinner at Paprika.. We got there a little early so we hung out on the steps waiting for them to open...
Our final full day in Granada we booked another excursion - this time the Olive Oil Tour - which I also highly recommend. They pick you up at your hotel - Fraser and me and couple from Australia and drive you out into the gorgeous countryside to check out how olive oil is made - from tree to the finished product. Sampling of olive oil and a wine tasting were a must!
|Our wonderful guide Violetta|
|Further innovation - without donkeys.|
Back in town the next morning before departing for Nerja on the Costa del Sol I picked up some teas at a street market..