There’s a reason the Roaring 20s and 30s have earned the honor of being some of the most yearned-for decades in history. People who weren’t even alive during the time hanker for the glitz, glamour and outrageousness of the era that gave rise to some of the greatest art the world has ever seen.
If you’re someone who longs for the Jazz Age, the age of Art Deco look no further. We’ve got five books that will tickle your tastebuds, and have you hurtling back in time to live out your twenties dreams. Of course, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is probably a little too on the nose— we’re pretty sure you’ve heard of it!
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Instead, we’ve put together a selection of some more contemporary fare. We hope you enjoy!
1. The Girl from the Savoy by Hazel Gaynor
This thrilling London adventure is a real rags-to-riches treat! Set in London, this book is the perfect way to engross yourself in the England of the Art Deco era, the lives of famous actors and actresses of the time, led by a brilliant protagonist for whom you’re rooting the entire time!
Image Via Hazel Gaynor
Presenting a dazzling new historical novel … The Girl From The Savoy is as sparkling as champagne and as thrilling as the era itself.
‘Sometimes life gives you cotton stockings. Sometimes it gives you a Chanel gown …’
Dolly Lane is a dreamer; a downtrodden maid who longs to dance on the London stage, but her life has been fractured by the Great War. Memories of the soldier she loved, of secret shame and profound loss, by turns pull her back and spur her on to make a better life.
When she finds employment as a chambermaid at London’s grandest hotel, The Savoy, Dolly takes a step closer to the glittering lives of the Bright Young Things who thrive on champagne, jazz and rebellion. Right now, she must exist on the fringes of power, wealth and glamor—she must remain invisible and unimportant.
But her fortunes take an unexpected turn when she responds to a struggling songwriter’s advertisement for a ‘muse’ and finds herself thrust into London’s exhilarating theatre scene and into the lives of celebrated actress, Loretta May, and her brother, Perry. Loretta and Perry may have the life Dolly aspires to, but they too are searching for something.
Now, at the precipice of the life she has and the one she longs for, the girl from The Savoy must make difficult choices: between two men; between two classes, between everything she knows and everything she dreams of. A brighter future is tantalizingly close—but can a girl like Dolly ever truly leave her past behind?
2. The Gold Pawn by L.A. Chandlar
Set in New York in the 30s, this book is a real feast for the senses! In the midst of a fictitious storyline, Chandlar includes real life occurrences and anecdotes. Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia is a key character in the book, and readers are often surprised that his most sensational antics are actually the real ones! On top of this, the book is set in a male-dominated era but follows the incredible women taking huge leaps, regardless. As if this book wasn’t enticing enough, the 30s was the era of the cocktail, readers may find some delicious new drinks they’ll want to try, like the Bad Romance or Blueberry Champagne cocktail! So get reading and relax! Don’t forget to enter our competition to be in with a chance to win your very own copy plus amazing prizes!
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November 1936. Mayor La Guardia’s political future buckles under a missing persons case in New York City. Simultaneously, Lane unravels devastating secrets in the outskirts of Detroit. As two crimes converge, judging friends from enemies can be a dangerous game . . .
Finally summoning the courage to face the past, Lane Sanders breaks away from her busy job at City Hall to confront childhood nightmares in Rochester, Michigan. An unknown assailant left Lane with scattered memories after viciously murdering her parents. However, one memory of a dazzling solid gold pawn piece remains—and with it lies a startling connection between the midwestern tragedy and a current mystery haunting the Big Apple . . .
Meanwhile, fears climb in Manhattan after the disappearance of a respected banker and family friend threatens the crippled financial industry and the pristine reputation of Lane’s virtuous boss, Mayor Fiorello “Fio” La Guardia. Fio’s fight to restore order leads him into more trouble as he meets a familiar foe intent on ending his mayoral term—and his life . . .
Guided by overseas telegrams from the man she loves and painful memories, only Lane can silence old ghosts and derail present-day schemes. But when the investigation awakens a darker side of her own nature, will she and New York City’s most prominent movers and shakers still forge ahead into a prosperous new age . . . or is history doomed to repeat itself?
3. Jazz Moon by Joe Okonkwo
This gorgeous books flits between Harlem and Paris, exploring the atmosphere and race relations of the time. It follows dreamy poet Ben, as he seeks inspiration and experiences heartache during one of the most interesting periods in the history of contemporary America and Europe. Focusing in on the art of the era, this book is perfect for any fans of the jazz and poetry of the time.
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In a lyrical, captivating debut set against the backdrop of the Harlem Renaissance and glittering Jazz Age Paris, Joe Okonkwo creates an evocative story of emotional and artistic awakening.
On a sweltering summer night in 1925, beauties in beaded dresses mingle with hepcats in dapper suits on the streets of Harlem. The air is thick with reefer smoke, and jazz pours out of speakeasy doorways. Ben Charles and his devoted wife, Angeline, are among the locals crammed into a basement club to hear jazz and drink bootleg liquor. For aspiring poet Ben, the swirling, heady rhythms are a revelation. So is Baby Back Johnston, an ambitious trumpet player who flashes a devilish grin and blasts jazz dynamite from his horn. Ben finds himself drawn to the trumpeter—and to Paris where Baby Back says everything is happening.
In Paris, jazz and champagne flow eternally, and black people are welcomed as exotic celebrities, especially those from Harlem. It’s an easy life that quickly leaves Ben adrift and alone, craving solace through anonymous dalliances in the city’s decadent underground scene. From chic Parisian cafés to seedy opium dens, his odyssey will bring new love, trials, and heartache, even as echoes from the past urge him to decide where true fulfillment and inspiration lie.
4. The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
Paula McLain’s book follows Ernest Hemingway’s first wife Hadley through her whirlwind years with Ernest. McLain, much like L.A. Chandlar, puts a huge amount of real history and anecdotes into her books, visiting locations and really getting into the hearts and minds of her characters. This book follows Hadley from the States to Paris with Hemingway in an absolutely enthralling and authentic romance.
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A deeply evocative story of ambition and betrayal, The Paris Wife captures the love affair between two unforgettable people: Ernest Hemingway and his wife Hadley.
Chicago, 1920: Hadley Richardson is a quiet twenty-eight-year-old who has all but given up on love and happiness—until she meets Ernest Hemingway. Following a whirlwind courtship and wedding, the pair set sail for Paris, where they become the golden couple in a lively and volatile group—the fabled “Lost Generation”—that includes Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Though deeply in love, the Hemingways are ill prepared for the hard-drinking, fast-living, and free-loving life of Jazz Age Paris. As Ernest struggles to find the voice that will earn him a place in history and pours himself into the novel that will become The Sun Also Rises, Hadley strives to hold on to her sense of self as her roles as wife, friend, and muse become more challenging. Eventually they find themselves facing the ultimate crisis of their marriage—a deception that will lead to the unraveling of everything they’ve fought so hard for.
A heartbreaking portrayal of love and torn loyalty, The Paris Wife is all the more poignant because we know that, in the end, Hemingway wrote that he would rather have died than fallen in love with anyone but Hadley.
5. Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen
From the author of hugely successful The Luxe series, Bright Young Things is the first in another trilogy, this time set in New York at the end of the 20s. It will swing you right into the world of flappers and society girls, glamorous socialites who will do whatever it takes to get to the top…
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The year is 1929. New York is ruled by the Bright Young Things: Flappers and socialites seeking thrills and chasing dreams in the anything-goes era of the Roaring Twenties.
Letty Larkspur and Cordelia Grey escaped their small Midwestern town for New York’s glittering metropolis. All Letty wants is to see her name in lights, but she quickly discovers Manhattan is filled with pretty girls who will do anything to be a star….
Cordelia is searching for the father she’s never known, a man as infamous for his wild parties as he is for his shadowy schemes. Overnight, she enters a world more thrilling and glamorous than she ever could have imagined — and more dangerous. It’s a life anyone would kill for…and someone will.
The only person Cordelia can trust is Astrid Donal, a flapper who seems to have it all: money, looks, and the love of Cordelia’s brother, Charlie. But Astrid’s perfect veneer hides a score of family secrets.
Across the vast lawns of Long Island, in the illicit speakeasies of Manhattan, and on the blindingly lit stages of Broadway, the three girls’ fortunes will rise and fall — together and apart. From the New York Times bestselling author of THE LUXE comes an epic new series set in the dizzying last summer of the Jazz Age.
Bonus: Save Me the Waltz by Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald
It’s suspected that F. Scott Fitzgerald lifted portions of his books, notably The Beautiful and Damned, from his wife Zelda’s diaries. Zelda herself was a writer who had a novel of her own published, before her untimely death.
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Save Me the Waltz is the first and only novel by the wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald. During the years when Fitzgerald was working on Tender Is the Night, Zelda Fitzgerald was preparing her own story, which parallels the narrative of her husband, throwing a fascinating light on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s life and work. In its own right, it is a vivid and moving story: the confessions of a famous, slightly doomed glamour girl of the affluent 1920s, which captures the spirit of an era.
Featured Image Via Seattle Times, synopses via Amazon and Goodreads.