Hello, bookworms! Happy Tuesday! Hump day is just around the corner, but I hope you’re all getting some early-week reading in while you can. As usual, my schedule has taken a massive hit. Work has been pretty draining, and life outside of work has been pretty hectic as well. I used to get through 4-5 books a week and lately, I’m lucky if I get through one in a week’s time. I can’t complain though, because it allows me to really spend time with my current read and savor the story. While there are reading challenge goals to meet, I do need to pump the breaks and smell the pages.
Anyway, I think it’s about time to get to a review, don’t you think? Today, I’m talking about Cotton Club Princess by debut author, Karla Diggs.
Karla and I met at Book Expo last month, and I can’t apologize enough to her for the delay on this review. She was kind enough to stop and chat and offer me an early copy of her first novel for review. Although I was delayed in getting to it, I finally finished last night, so let’s talk!
Cotton Club Princess is different than other novels I’ve read. While I do read historical fiction, I’ve always gravitated towards Revolutionary or Civil War era or World War II genres. Princess brought me right into The Golden Age of Jazz, the Harlem Renaissance, and the hustle and bustle of 1920s New York City, just before the Market Crash of 1929. I haven’t thought to go to those sparkly days since I last read The Great Gatsby.
In the mid-1920s, we meet Nostalgia Richardson. She’s a girl living in the south who has dreams bigger than the arranged marriage her parents have planned for her. With her boss as her only saving grace, she prepares very little in the way of belongings, and buys a bus ticket north.
Almost immediately, she encounters Mrs. Spears, a friendly face who just so happens to own a boarding house and gives the poor girl someplace to stay. From then on, it’s nothing but adventures into the glamour of follie life with a band of dancing, jazz, misfits of sorts.
I enjoyed scampering around Manhattan with Nostalgia and all the dancers. Spending time with them on stage or in the boarding house with Mrs. Spears and their respective beaus made me feel like family. Whether it was a joyous occasion like a fancy, holiday dinner, or something heavier like the tension and conflict brought about by racial segregation. It was a hell of a rollercoaster, that’s for sure.
If anything, I just wish there was a it more character development in order to expand some of the scenes and create the proper emotions. A few times, there were some monumental or life-changing occasions that occurred and then tapered off a bit too quickly that I was left wondering what happened. It felt like I jumped right in and out of an important scene and still had questions. If it were even fifty to a hundred pages longer with some extra details sprinkled throughout, I would’ve been completely smitten with the whole tale.
As a debut novel, this was really an entertaining read overall. I had fun dancing the night away with the “tall, tan, and terrific!” as much as I enjoyed a lazy time with them on a park bench enjoying the serenity their local fountain brought them.