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It’s 1922 in the Manhattan of gin, jazz and prosperity. Women wear makeup and hitched hemlines – and enjoy a new freedom to vote and work. Not so Evelyn Lockhart, forbidden from pursuing her passion: to become one of the first female doctors.
Chasing her dream will mean turning her back on the only life she knows: her competitive sister, Viola; her conservative parents; and the childhood best friend she is expected to marry, Charlie.
And if Evie does fight Columbia University’s medical school for acceptance, how will she support herself? So when there’s a casting call for the infamous late-night Ziegfeld Follies on Broadway, will Evie find the nerve to audition? And if she does, what will it mean for her fledgling relationship with Upper East Side banker Thomas Whitman, a man Evie thinks she could fall in love with, if only she lived a life less scandalous?
Wow! What a breath of fresh air this book was! I LOVED it! Just before I was about to commence reading it, I came across the short free prequel and that really set the scene. I am so glad I read this short 50 page introduction (not a prerequisite) as it introduced you to characters that will lend itself nicely to the main event.
One sign of a good read for me, is my lack of highlighting. I am so lost in the prose that I don't think or need to detail any passages. For you see from the time I first opened 'A Kiss from Mr Fitzgerald', I became immersed in a whole new world that I did not want to leave. Natasha Lester presents such an absorbing tale, an inspiring plot and characters that are so alive they jump right off the page at you. There is drama, humour, great sadness, philosophical debate and a timeless romance that will make it hard for you to step away from the book.
We follow in the steps of Evie, a determined young woman who longs to become a obstetrician and the lengths and sacrifices she goes to in an effort to accomplish that. This is the 1920s and for a woman to aspire to such a thing, is largely unheard of. My eyes were well and truly opened wide to all that she had to confront in this important time from history, for women, and for females in the medical profession.
"Suffragettes and sciences. One wonders what some women will dream up next."
I loved the whole historical background and what it was like for women in those days - everything from societal roles and expectations (for both women and men), to breaking down the barriers, to the Ziegfeld girls, to the Jazz Age, to medical practices of the day, to the poor conditions many New Yorkers faced as Evie witnessed how the 'other half' live.
The book is full of fascinating characters, and set in one of the most sumptuous eras of New York's history. The prohibition-era turns of phrase, cracking societal dialogue of the time, happening places, balls, outfits, even right down to the memorable train ride Evie would daily take. The cast of characters are endless - you will love some, you will despise some, but more importantly, you will easily imagine yourself partying amongst some, doing the Charleston with New York’s high society.
'A Kiss from Mr Fitzgerald' is a well written story that will sit with me for quite some time to come. Evie was one of those special individuals born into a time that was not for her. So she took her ideals and aspirations and embarked on an amazing journey with strength and tenacity, kindness and compassion. She alone makes this a reason to pick up this book and lose yourself to the 1920s New York.
"...this was why she'd come to New York. To feel as if she mattered. As if she was, finally, full of life."