Thursday, May 29, 2014

Empire Girls by Suzanne Hayes, Loretta Nyhan

The other girls were a candy box assortment--plump and thin, brunette and blonde, tall and short, but they all looked like they knew where the world had wanted them to go, but ran in the opposite direction as soon as they got the chance.

Empire Girls
I didn't love this book, didn't hate it either. There's nothing deep here, no major revelation, but it does pass the time.

It just isn't what I was hoping for after enjoying I'll Be Seeing You so much.

It's the twenties. There's a LOT of drinking. Except for all the drinking and the speakeasy and lingo, it doesn't have a twenties feel. It doesn't scream TWENTIES, if that makes sense. I wasn't really transported to another time and place.

Two sisters who start and end with completely different and somewhat not explained personality changes are searching for a brother they never knew about until their father's passing...and this brother can determine their future. The sisters have a strange love/hate relationship, but if I had to spend 21, 22 years in another's constant presence, I can imagine that's inevitable. Frankly, both of these girls would get on my nerves. Ivy is too self-absorbed and selfish and Rose is a stick in the mud and a kiss-up at first, until she seems to become an alcoholic. LOL

"I hurried out of bed, flew down the stairs and then brought his bedtime tea back up. "Here you are, Papa. See, I will always bring your tea..."


Thankfully she changes, but still...

What I do like about this story is how it touches on the NYers who went to WWI and ended up trapped for a week (The Lost Battalion, Argonne) without food in France while their own fellow Americans shot at them. Sad. And these men came back and many of them were emotionally compromised and put into institutions or sleeping homeless in the park... I was so interested in this lost battalion, I did more research on my own and there was so much the authors could have done here, perhaps have the brother as a narrator, telling his story too? The soldiers even had to use pigeons to get messages out of their area. Frankly, I didn't think there was enough to this story to warrant double narratives, but if they'd added the brother's story...after all the story is supposed to be about these girls looking for their missing brother, but there is so very little really of that drama, compared to the romance and drinking and other characters in the house who don't really hold major roles. 

Overall, the story felt rushed. The timeline was crazy too. At times it read as if a week had passed and a few pages later, days, and a few pages later, three weeks, and later, two weeks. I like a set timeline and this irritated me. I also thought, partly because of the cover--looks like some weird stage thing going on there--that there would be some theater life, some side story here about acting or vaudeville or something, and there wasn't. Even the ladies' jobs...not much detail about that. I mean, just WHEN does Rose do any housekeeping? Yes, I'd say there was a serious lack of details in this story. I think that's what was missing for me. And where were the other ladies of the house? Why didn't the sisters ask them about their brother? There were four ladies in the attic and three downstairs? That doesn't make sense.

Funny quote from Nell:
"Terrible place, the country. Full of misfits and heathens pretending to be Christians. Humans forget to be human when they aren't surrounded by comparisons."

I received this via Netgalley. Quotes may be different in the final book.

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