EXCERPT: ‘… if they can’t stand to see a young woman exercise her rights, then maybe they need an education in how the modern world works.’
The waiter turned on his heel and left, and my mother began to collect her things. I reached out and put my hand on hers. ‘Where are you going, Mama? Don’t let them bully us into leaving.’
‘It’s not them,’ she said softly. ‘It’s you.’ I saw her eyes fill with tears. ‘Your manners, your lack of etiquette, of decency – living here with a man you’ve only just met – even your lovely hair . . .’ She reached out and tucked a piece of my cropped hair behind my ear. ‘It’s all gone.’
She stood, pushed in her chair and gently placed her handbag on her arm. ‘Olive, you’re forgetting who you are.’
‘You’re wrong, Mama,’ I said, almost in a whisper. ‘For the first time in my life I know exactly who I want to be.’
ABOUT ‘THE SHOW GIRL’: It’s 1927 when Olive McCormick moves from Minneapolis to New York City determined to become a star in the Ziegfeld Follies. Extremely talented as a singer and dancer, it takes every bit of perseverance to finally make it on stage. And once she does, all the glamour and excitement is everything she imagined and more–even worth all the sacrifices she has had to make along the way.
Then she meets Archie Carmichael. Handsome, wealthy–the only man she’s ever met who seems to accept her modern ways–her independent nature and passion for success. But once she accepts his proposal of marriage he starts to change his tune, and Olive must decide if she is willing to reveal a devastating secret and sacrifice the life she loves for the man she loves.
MY THOUGHTS: Spanning 1927 to 1929, and encompassing the beginning of the great depression, The Show Girl is an exciting and balanced blend of history, drama, and romance.
Harrison has captured the excitement of the end of the roaring twenties; a time of changing social mores, a time of desperate need for excess as people tried to block out the devastation and decimation of the first world war. There is a frantic need for enjoyment, and social boundaries are pushed as women begin to assert their independence.
This is the backdrop to a story of a young woman with ambition, a dream that, despite all the obstacles placed in her way, she is determined to attain. Young and naive in New York City, this is both a coming of age story and a social commentary. I hope I am not making this sound dull, because it is anything but. It is brimming with life, love, and drama.
Harrison’s characters are very true to life. Olive comes from a very traditional family; a rigidly strict father, and a mother who stays at home to care for the children. Their plans for Olive were more along the lines of a nice little job in a department store until she marries, than a scantily clad show girl!
Olive is not always a likeable character. Sometimes, like most of us, she doesn’t even like herself. But Olive is determined, and very single-minded; totally focused on reaching her goal even if she is abandoned by her family along the way. And she is the star of this story. The spotlight never leaves her.
I found this a fascinating read. On my bucket list is a trip to Paris to see the Follies Bergére, and it is on this famous troupe that Ziegfield based his own troupe of dancers in New York. So between that, and The Show Girl being written by Nicola Harrison, I just knew I had to read this book. I was not disappointed.
I: @nicolaharrisonauthor @stmartinspress
T: @NicolaHAuthor #StMartinsPress
THE AUTHOR: I’m originally from Hampshire, England, and moved to California when I was 14. I studied Literature at UCLA and received an MFA in creative writing at Stony Brook University. Soon after college I moved to NYC and worked in magazine publishing. I was the fashion and style staff writer for Forbes and had a weekly column at Lucky Magazine. I spent many summers in Montauk, which inspired my first novel, but after 17 years in the Big Apple I recently moved back to California and have settled in Manhattan Beach with my husband, two sons and two chihuahuas. When I’m not writing I love to paddle board, do yoga and get outside with my boys.
DISCLOSURE: Thank you to St Martin’s via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Show Girl by Nicola Harrison for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.
For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com
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