Cover Image: Wild Women and the Blues

Wild Women and the Blues

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

This is an intriguing story of Chicago in the 1920s as told by Honore Dalcour to Sawyer, a film student who is struggling to finish his degree and hoping that he has found a rare film that Honore may be in. Honors is in a nursing home and Sawyer must convince her to tell the story of her life and have her validate the film's origins. At first Honore dismisses Sawyer but eventually her story enfolds telling of one of the most riotous times in American history. Honore recounts her story of the conflict between the club owners, the Black and white conflict, and the treatment of the dancers.
The story has lots of twists and turns as the plot develops along multiple lines.
Recommended for those interested in the Black experience in America, readers of historical fiction, and especially insight into this unique time period.

Was this review helpful?

*Thank to the publisher and NetGalley for allowing me to read this book in exchange for a honest review.*

It took me about the 50% mark to get into this story, but once I was hooked, I was hooked! Wild Women and the Blues takes a deep dive into the 1920s Chicago Era, while also keeping the reader in present time through Sawyer's point of view. The atmosphere of this book made me feel like I was in the story with the characters.

I wouldn't say that this is a book that has characters you will love. They are all flawed in their own way and have darker pasts. Honoree is a hard woman that goes after what she wants, and was usually successful in that aspect. I enjoyed that she didn't take crap from anyone, but I also found it hard to connect with her.

I thought Sawyer's character was kind of bland at first, but as the story progressed, so did he and he became more interesting.

I thought the twists and turns of this book were done very well, and I was really happy about the ending of this book. It gave me all the feels.

Was this review helpful?

I really enjoyed this book. I wish there were more books about this time period because prohibition and the jazz age is fascinating to read about! I could have done without the modern day storyline as it really added nothing to the book and i was tempted to skip over those sections. Definitely recommend for fans of historical fiction!

Was this review helpful?

Wild Women and the Blues by Denny S. Bryce was a great read. I featured it as Book of the Day on all my social media platforms, and I included it in my monthly roundup of news releases for my Black Fiction Addiction blog.

Was this review helpful?

I knew from the minute I saw the cover of the book that I wanted to read it. I find the 1920s period fascinating. I was hooked from the first page and didn’t want to put it down.

The book starts in 2015. Sawyer Hayes goes to visit 110-year-old Honoree Dalcour in her Chicago nursing home. She is the last living link to famed African-American movie director Oscar Micheaux. The fact that Oscar is a real forgotten Hollywood legend endeared me more to this story, and I spent an afternoon researching him (thank heavens for the internet!).

Sawyer thinks he has found a bit of lost film history---a snippet of a film from the 1920s that stars Honoree---in his grandmother’s long-ago box. Mostly, Sawyer is working in Paris with his dad, waiting for the film snippet to be restored and trying to finish his doctorate in media studies.

Honoree is guarded by one of the nurses, Lula. He smooth talks his way into see Honoree, and it doesn’t hurt that his grandmother has been paying the bills at Chicago’s Bronzeville Senior Living Facility since 1985. Honoree is a rather ornery old woman. She may be ancient, but she is still mentally alert and feisty. She loves to give Sawyer a hard time, questioning and accusing him at every opportunity.

The novel moves back and forth between 2015 and 1925, also in Chicago, and shifts from Sawyer’s point of view to Honoree’s. There readers are immersed in Honoree’s life and her ambitions, along with seedy bars, dancing girls and yes, gangsters. To start, she is a dancer at Miss Hattie’s…a seedy joint with its share of fascinating characters. Her dream, though, is to dance at the Dreamland Café…and that dream may be in reach.
But a lot happens to try to stop Honoree. The man she has always loved and disappeared from her life three years ago, Ezekiel, reappears. She has also become the quasi-guardian to the most innocent young woman she has ever met, Bessie Palmer.

Things really heat up when Honoree witnesses a murder at Miss Hattie’s. Now she not only has all those other things to worry about, but has to keep a low profile to stay a step ahead of the Capone gang.
Author Bryce’s debut novel is a quick read. I look forward to more novels by her. “Wild Women and the Blues” receives 4 out of 5 stars in Julie’s world.

Was this review helpful?

Historical fiction in the 1920s with a dual timeline. This is a favorite addition of mine to any novel.
I love the era and the story line was intriguing.
3.5 stars. Thank you NetGalley.

Was this review helpful?

Switching to audio was the way to go for me here. I wound up enjoying it more in that format. Perhaps it was the alternating timeline or simply narrator performance. A refreshing new entry to the women's historical fiction oeuvre.

Was this review helpful?

I made it to 20% before I called it quits. I just couldn't get into it or interested. Thank you for the advanced copy.

Was this review helpful?

The first think I saw was that Wild Women and the Blues was in fact a historical fiction book about a dancer in the 20s, I rushed to get to read it
This book gave me major Evelyn Hugo vibes and I loved it to the core!
This novel portrays the world of mob violence as it was and the trigger warnings in this one are a lot (racism, rape, physical abuse, sexual assault,) murder all make appearances on the pages. The book doesn’t glorify these things at all, but it makes it clear they were part of everyday life for women like Honoree and her friends. Rendering the situation all the more heartbreaking is the young age of the ladies who suffer through all this. Many of them have long sexual histories by the time they are in their late teens and a lot of that sex isn’t a matter of choice but survival.
I really enjoyed it and I can't wait to read other books by this author

Was this review helpful?

I really loved this book!! It had so many twists and turns. It kept me on the edge of my seat wondering what was going to happen next!! This was my first book by this Author, and it won’t be the last!! Quick read!! Highly recommended!! You won’t be disappointed!!

Was this review helpful?

More like 3.8 stars

Okay *deep breath*⁠

I'm gonna preface this review by saying that I LOVE historical fiction, in particular any historical fiction that focuses on show business, artists, musicians, etc. So when I saw that Wild Women and the Blues was in fact a historical fic book about a dancer in the 20s, I was incredibly excited to read it.⁠

Here's what I loved, and what I didn't love about it.⁠


⭐ The setting, the ambiance, the clothes, the dancing, the parties - it was perfect. And the occasional name-dropping of real people, real celebrities and musicians, which I like to see in this kind of book because it contributes to making the story seem real.⁠

⭐ I also loved the two connected timelines; it's a pretty common thing in historical fiction, and it works.⁠

⭐ I loved Honoree's character overall - how strong she was, how determined she was, how imperfect she was. Gave me Evelyn Hugo vibes in that sense.⁠

Now, for what I DIDN'T LIKE:⁠

⭐ For some reason, the romance didn't seem believable.⁠

⭐ Until two-thirds of the book, I was loving everything about it. To me, the book has no problems whatsoever (besides Sawyer being a bore, I couldn't connect with/care about him) until we get to the end. And the end is a mess.⁠

It was so rushed. It felt like the writer was taking her sweet time writing something lovely and then boom, suddenly she has 24 hours to finish the book and she needs to tie everything up as best as she can. And a lot was left unsaid, a lot didn't make sense, and I finished the book feeling... confused? Lost? I just expected more. I still have lots of questions. While I was reading the last chapter, I THOUGHT there would be at least two or three more chapters to explain everything.⁠

So yeah... I wouldn't be as harsh on this book if I didn't have sky-high expectations for it, but I just thought it was a pity to enjoy most of it so much and then being so disappointed in the end.⁠

I still think this book is worth it for the history, the ambiance, and the strong MC, but you've been warned - the ending might disappoint you.

Was this review helpful?

Thank you to @netgalley and the author and publisher for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Minimal spoilers in this review 🚨

I wanted to love this book. But I couldn’t. I also don’t want to be a book badger and just say I hate it. This was historical fiction with mention of a ghost, but I’m not sure if it was a metaphorical ghost? But the ghost was just ghosted in the modern day sense, she just disappeared with no explanation 🤷🏼‍♀️.

The characters also felt underdeveloped and flat for me. This is also very silly but the author used the word “bubs” quite a few times instead of other terms for breasts and it really irked me idk why.

I like the overall idea of this book, with more developed characters and no ghosts metaphorical or not.

Was this review helpful?

With her first historical novel, Denny S. Bryce emerges as an exciting new writer of historical fiction. The two timelines in this multi-period story are both gripping. In Chicago in 1925, “The Stroll”—a section of State Street—blazes with the sights and sounds of Black nightlife: live jazz from talented performers, speakeasies with illicit booze, and showgirls with sparkling costumes and hot dance moves. Honoree Dalcour, a sharecropper’s daughter from Mississippi, has a regular gig dancing at Miss Hattie’s but dreams of performing at the Dreamland Café, a prestigious black-and-tan club. When her first love, Ezekiel Bailey, returns to town after a long absence, and her audition at the Dreamland turns unexpectedly risky, Honoree is plunged into dangerous waters in more ways than one.

In 2015, film student Sawyer Hayes pays a visit to Honoree, a supercentenarian in a nursing home whose fragile body holds a still-feisty spirit. In pursuit of his doctorate, Sawyer hopes Honoree can authenticate a possible lost film by pioneering Black filmmaker Oscar Micheaux showing Honoree dancing in her younger years. His conversations with Honoree, though, are hardly straightforward since she seems unusually guarded about events from 1925.

The stories dance together marvelously: the plot is in constant motion, and the interplay between them results in surprising twists. Bryce skillfully evokes place and period with vibrant descriptions of the glamorous and treacherous sides of Jazz Age Chicago and fun period slang. The subtle characterizations are a high point as well, such as Honoree’s interactions with pianist Lil Hardin Armstrong, whose upscale society party has Honoree seeing herself in a new light, and Sawyer’s slow emergence from intense grief over his sister’s death. An especially impressive debut with a strong voice and very cool historical vibe.

Reviewed for the Historical Novels Review, May 2021.

Was this review helpful?

I would round this up to 3.5 stars. This novel takes place in two alternating timelines. It follows Honoree Delcour, a showgirl in 1925 Chicago and Sawyer Hayes, a film student in the present day, who is interviewing Honoree for his thesis project. In the present Honoree is a 110 year old woman living in a senior living facility in Chicago that is paid for by Sawyer’s grandmother. Sawyer doesn’t know the connection between these two women, but he’s desperate to finish his project so he overlooks Honoree’s brash attitudes and opinions to get to the scoop. In 1925, Honoree witnesses a crime that puts her life in danger. She’s a young woman who has no one but herself to take care of her. She’s sharp witted and sharp tongued. While I liked the spiritedness of Honoree some of her actions made me want to slap her. You can still be a strong female character without making stupid choices. She just couldn’t resist getting in the middle of things that didn’t concern her. I really enjoyed being drawn into the 1920’s and the jazz era. This is not a time period I have read much about, but I definitely want to read more. The descriptions were colorful and lively and the characters were full of life. The transitions between the past and present were done seamlessly and I liked both equally. My favorite character was Sawyer, a young black man who was suffering from unimaginable loss. My heart ached for him and the guilt he carried. The book cover is what captured my attention, but the story itself is what drew me in. Thank you to NetGalley for the advance copy in exchange for my an honest review.

Was this review helpful?

Denny Bryce did an amazing job with this dual storyline. In the present day timeline, Sawyer Hayes finds an old reel with features Honoree Delacour. Sawyer is creating a documentary thesis on the legendary Black filmmaker Oscar Micheaux. His research leads him to Honoree, an elderly woman who used to be a dancer in 1920s Chicago.

In the 1920s timeline, Honoree is a sharecropper's daughter who is "accustomed to hard work and hard time," she now she is climbing that ladder to success as a dancer at the Dreamland Cafe. She is a strong heroine and a well-crafted character.

The writing is very strong, and the plot was compelling and filled with twists and turns. This book kept me turning that pages, and I am looking forward to more books from Denny Bryce.

Was this review helpful?

Talk about living through some stuff. Even though it's not a true story, it really makes you think about the people out there in Honoree's shoes - people who have lived through a century and the first-hand accounts and wisdom they have to share with generations who have no idea what it was really like. If only someone will hear their stories.
I'm usually not a fan of dual time-line stories - I've had a few more of them grow on me lately, but usually I find myself much more attached to the historical portion and skimming the present-day half. The neat thing about this story is that even though it's being told between the past and present, Honoree is still the focus of both timelines. The present-day time line includes the side story of Sawyer, an aspiring film student, but the focus of his thesis project hinges on Honoree's story. Reluctantly, she shares her story with him, but the more he hears the more complicated things become.
Both Honoree and Sawyer have lessons yet to learn about facing the ghosts of the past. The only way to make peace with the past may be to face it together.
The historical plot is fast-paced, well-researched, and the characters well-developed. The descriptions of the night clubs, the costumes and the cultural climate of the day are vivid and richly detailed. Bryce's narrative is most enjoyable. There is minimal objectionable content - Sawyer cusses, but Honoree has always objected to resorting to foul language and constantly admonishes him. There are some references to trading sex for protection and employment, and to abusive relationships, but no graphic content. I recommend this read to any fellow lovers of flapper fiction, any historical fans who would like a lesson in the twenties, and to those who are fans of dual-timeline fiction.

Was this review helpful?

First of all, this cover. This cover grabbed me and made me want to learn more! After I read an excerpt, I was all in. Thankfully, I was granted an ARC from NetGalley to read and provide y’all my honest review about this debut novel.

Wild Women and the Blues is an enchanting read that weaves together the past and the present (in the book it’s 2015).

The quick rundown: Sawyer finds photos and film in the home of his evasive grandmother that can help him complete his research for film school. The photos and film he borrows (ok, takes) from her leads him to the nursing home door of the chorus girl in them. This meeting puts the two on a wild journey full of speakeasys, gangsters, and murder.

I enjoyed this book. I didn’t know exactly how the author would pull off combining 2015 with the 1920s, but she did a great job. The writing was easy to follow, and the action and suspense kept coming and kept me interested. Overall, the author wrote a good story about truth and forgiveness.

Was this review helpful?

When I heard about Denny S. Bryce's OwnVoices 1920s historical fiction, I was immediately intrigued. Bryce does such a beautiful job of weaving back and forth between the two timelines, and the novel quickly captivated me as the connection between Sawyer and Honoree's stories gradually came to light. I will say that Honoree's perspective was much more engaging for me, but both characters were complex and well-developed. I loved all the details of jazz age Chicago and truly felt transported through the writing–I could clearly imagine the clothes, see the club, and hear the music as though I were witnessing it myself. This is a gorgeous debut that I would highly recommend to fans of historical fiction, particularly those with an interest in the 1920s/Jazz Era. I look forward to reading any future works from Bryce. Many thanks to Kensington Books and Netgalley for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Was this review helpful?

What's a time period you really enjoy learning more about? I didn't know mine was the 1920s, but this lovely book made me realize just how much this time period interests me.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Thank you to NetGalley and Kensington Books for this advanced reader's copy! Wild Women and the Blues by Denny S Bryce transported me to 1920s Chicago, a scene filled with dancing, jazz, and plenty of intrigue. This historical fiction debut was fantastic!⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Bryce brilliantly intertwines two timelines, 1920s Chicago and the modern-day windy city. This is a captivating story of loss, fame, and the friends that we choose as family. This story centers around Honoree Dalcour, an up-and-coming chorus girl who is rubbing shoulders with the likes of legends Louis and Lil Armstrong and filmmaker Oscar Micheaux. Yet amidst the glitz and the glam there is also trouble in the form of bootleg booze and mobsters who want things done their way. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
In the present day we meet Sawyer, a film student who hopes to unearth a lost Micheaux film with the help of 110-year-old Honoree. While the pair starts uncovering the past, both Honoree and Sawyer reveal more personal secrets than they planned to and find themselves re-living the passion and poignancy that existed during this historic moment in time.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
I loved this book. I felt so immersed in Honoree's world and connected to the company she chose to keep. It was fascinating learning more about the 1920s and Bryce did a beautiful job weaving historical relevance throughout a heartfelt narrative. This book was also so unique and important for how it gave voice to the black experience during this culturally impactful time period. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
I highly recommend this book to fans of historical fiction who love a good mystery that spans decades. There is also plenty of drama, beautiful outfits, and love (in many forms) that surpasses time. Be sure to pick this one up!

Was this review helpful?

I liked reading about Jazz age Chicago and its vibrant life a lot. The characters were also very interesting, especially Honoree and Bessi.

The story is told in two timelines.

We follow Sawyer Hayes, a film student who deals with guilt and depression after the death of a close family member. He’s researching for additional sources to complete his thesis about an Oscar Micheaux film. The only link to finish his thesis is Honoree Delcour, who’s 110 years old.

Honoree’s storyline takes us in Chicago during the peak of the Jazz age. She’s a chorus girl who’s dreaming of making it big. But Chicago is a very dangerous place at that time and her ambitions might make her risk more than she can stand to lose.

I really liked how the author crafted the two narratives together especially because one is written in 1920s, and the other in 2015. Diving into this book I didn’t know that we’d be also solving a mystery, but I liked how everything was built up and resolved. I must admit I enjoyed Honoree’s timeline a lot more than Sawyer’s. Because next to Honoree’s chapters Sawyer’s fell a little bit flat.

Overall, this was a fantastic story and I recommend it to everyone who loves historical fiction, music, mysteries.

Thank you Netgalley and Kensington for my eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Was this review helpful?