I finished my 3rd retelling recently. This re-imagining was based on The Twelve Dancing Princesses.
Title: The Girls at the Kingfisher Club
Author: Genevieve Valentine
Synopsis: “From award-winning author Genevieve Valentine, a “gorgeous and bewitching” (Scott Westerfeld) re-imagining of the fairytale of the Twelve Dancing Princesses as flappers during the Roaring Twenties in Manhattan.
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 townhouse to await 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 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 weigh in the balance not only the demands of her father and eleven sisters, but those she must make of herself.
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 McClain, and penning a dazzling tale about love, sisterhood, and freedom.”
This is another fairytale favorite I cannot believe Disney hasn’t gotten a hold of. Come on guys! You’re missing out on a gem here! The premise is that there are twelve princesses who love to dance. Despite their father’s efforts to keep them locked in the castle, they manage to sneak out to dance every night. In desperation, the King promises the betrothal of his daughters if someone can unlock their secret to escaping the castle to dance.
I enjoyed this story. It is told mostly through the perspective of Jo, the eldest daughter. She is the “General,” harboring the responsibility of her 11 sisters’ well-being and safety while they sneak out to dance in prohibition era New York almost every night. I love how insistent the girls are to defy their father.
This was an easy and relatively short read. My main complaint is mixed with praise. The beauty of reading is the ability to make stories so rich with detail and imagery that your brain works endlessly to form pictures in your head as the story goes on. Something about the writing in this story made me crave more detail for the scenes I was reading and I felt a little disconnected from the characters. I partially like this because I had to really dig into my imagination and prior knowledge to connect with the story. At the same time, it felt a little lackluster. The 20’s was such a vibrant time and the story could have been engorged with more detail. I wanted to feel like I was dancing in the saloons with the princesses and I wanted to get to know them more. They were a little untouchable, much like their isolation at their father’s mansion.
Regardless, this was a pleasant read and I do recommend putting it on your read list. I am not sure what my next story will be. I have been feeling a little unmotivated, but I think I want to give Entwined by Heather Dixon a shot. It is another tale of the dancing princesses and sounds pretty fascinating.
Favorite Quote: “He watched her like he had come home after a long absence and had missed her most of all.”
In the meantime, let’s petition for Disney to make movies of The Wild Swans and The Twelve Dancing Princesses!!!
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