Scanning the reviews already posted for The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine, I see that the novel is supposed to be a twist on a fairy tale, Cinderella I presume. I didn’t get that vibe when I started reading and I’m honestly glad for it. I don’t think I would’ve liked it as much as I did had I known that.
Valentine centers the story on Josephine Hamilton, the oldest of twelve daughters (no sons) of a businessman in 1920s Prohibition Era New York City. Josephine, or Jo as she prefers to be called when she tells people her name, is both a rule breaker and a rule maker. Her father is ashamed by a dozen daughters and no sons so he gives them each a $4 a month allowance, refuses them social visits, and doesn’t meet some of them until he sets out to marry them off. This rankles Jo because she’s become their pseudo surrogate mother and she wants more for her sisters.
In reality, she wants more for them because she takes them alone when she’s trying to get more for herself. And they go dancing. They dance at every speakeasy and illegal dance club and supper club in the city. They sneak down the back stairs and they help each other make the most fashionable dresses possible with their limited resources. It is meant to be, quite obviously, a tale of sisterhood as much as it is Josephine’s story, which is one of rule making as well because she keeps careful track of her sisters and their well-being as rules are broken.
The drawback of the story, the thing that left me a little unsatisfied is that there is so much potential with the other Hamilton sisters. Valentine shows sparks of personality in the characters and then the characters are dropped in favor of another. The few that Jo is truly close to get more time but, in all honesty, I wanted to read about all of them. So the book was essentially too short. I would have read more, much more.
I received a copy of The Girls at the Kingfisher Club through Atria Books and NetGalley in exchange for an honest & original review. All thoughts are my own.