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The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine: A Book Review

The Girls at the Kingfisher Club
Author: Genevieve Valentine
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Atria
Release Date: 2014
Pages: 289
Source: My State Public Library
Synopsis: “Dressed up in the thrill and sparkle of the Roaring Twenties, the classic fairy tale of ‘The Twelve Dancing Princesses’ has never been more engrossing or delightful. Valentine’s fresh, original style and choice of setting make this a fairy tale reimagining not to be missed” (Library Journal, starred review).

     Jo, the firstborn, “The General” to her eleven sisters, is the only thing the Hamilton girls have in place of a mother. She is the one who taught them how to dance, the one who gives the signal each night, as they slip out of the confines of their father’s Manhattan townhouse and into the cabs that will take them to the speakeasy. Together they elude their distant and controlling father, until the day he decides to marry them all off.

     The girls, meanwhile, continue to dance, from Salon Renaud to the Swan and, finally, the Kingfisher, the club they've come to call home. They dance until one night when they are caught in a raid, separated, and Jo is thrust face-to-face with someone from her past: a bootlegger named Tom whom she hasn’t seen in almost ten years. Suddenly Jo must balance not only the needs of her father and eleven sisters, but her own as well.

     With The Girls at the Kingfisher Club, award-winning writer Genevieve Valentine takes her superb storytelling gifts to new heights, joining the leagues of such Jazz Age depicters as Amor Towles and Paula McLain, and penning a dazzling tale about love, sisterhood, and freedom.

     My Review: The Girls at the Kingfisher Club is a retelling of the “Twelve Dancing Princesses”. After being abandoned by their father because they were not the longed-for son he hoped for, Jo and her sisters decide to go dancing at clubs every night. This was to provide some entertainment for the girls and to keep them from running away. One day, their father decides to arrange a marriage for the sisters. Jo and her sisters are unhappy with this prospect of an arranged marriage and still go out dancing anyway. They are eventually caught in a raid and are separated. Can the sisters find each other again and find their happiness?

   I really could not get into Jo. She was a hard character to like. I think that there could have been more development. She is smart, practical, and responsible. She is very devoted to her family. However, I felt that the author could have fleshed her out a bit more. She was more like a Mary Sue to me, and I could not relate to her. As for the other princesses, I also could not get into them. I had a hard time telling one sister from the other, and they all blurred together. I even forgot their names while reading it, and when one of the sisters appeared I didn’t even care enough to sift through the book to remember which sister was which.

   Overall, this book is about freedom, family, and love. The characters needed more character development. The novel took a long time to get into because there was a lot of info dumping in the first half of the book. It begins to pick up pace halfway through, but by the time it got interesting, I wasn’t interested in the story. The story would have been more enjoyable if it didn't drag out the beginning details about which clubs the sisters danced at every night. However, I did like the bond of sisterhood this novel conveyed. The Girl at the Kingfisher Club has a unique premise for it has an interesting setting of the Prohibition era. However, it was not executed really well. Still, this novel may appeal to those who love fairy tale retellings, the Jazz age, and stories about the unconditional love between sisters.

Rating: 2½ out of 5 stars


  1. That's such a shame. The book has a really intersting premise and honestly I have bough it just because of that... and becasue it's set in the 1920s ;-)

    Well, let's see how it will work fo rme :-)

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts

  2. I'm excited to see how well it works for you. It does have such an interesting premise and I love fairy tales! So, I was very disappointed when I didn't enjoy this one.

  3. I like the premise, too. Thanks for the frank review.


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