By: Renee Rosen
Publication Date: 2/28/2017
My Rating: 4 Stars
The bestselling author of White Collar Girl and What the Lady Wants explores one woman's journey of self-discovery set against the backdrop of a musical and social revolution.
In the middle of the twentieth century, the music of the Mississippi Delta arrived in Chicago, drawing the attention of entrepreneurs like the Chess brothers. Their label, Chess Records, helped shape that music into the Chicago Blues, the soundtrack for a transformative era in American History.
But, for Leeba Groski, Chess Records was just where she worked...
Leeba doesn't exactly fit in, but her passion for music and her talented piano playing captures the attention of her neighbor, Leonard Chess, who offers her a job at his new record company. What begins as answering phones and filing becomes much more as Leeba comes into her own as a songwriter and befriends performers like Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Chuck Berry, and Etta James. But she also finds love with a black blues guitarist named Red Dupree.
With their relationship unwelcome in segregated Chicago and shunned by Leeba's Orthodox Jewish family, Leeba and Red soon find themselves in the middle of the Civil Rights Movement and they discover that, in times of struggle, music can bring people together.
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"Renee Rosen’s passion for her subject matter is evident in every single word of Windy City Blues. This novel about the rise of the Chicago Blues scene fairly shimmers with verve and intensity, and the large, diverse cast of characters is indelibly portrayed with the perfect pitch of a true artist.”—Melanie Benjamin, New York Times bestselling author of The Swans of Fifth Avenue
“An up-tempo song of love, music, and the Civil Rights movement.”—Stephanie Dray, New York Times Bestselling co-author of America’s First Daughter
“Bursting with the vitality of the new blues scene in Chicago in the 1950s and 1960s.”—Andrew Gross, author of The One Man
"Colorful personalities, fun cameos, and forbidden love light up Renee Rosen's immersive story, set deep in the heart of Chicago's blues scene. A vivid and thought-provoking tale that will have your toes tapping!"—Laura Kamoie, New York Times Bestselling co-author of America’s First Daughter
"Windy City Blues captures the heartbeat of Chicago in guitar riffs and harmonica slides. An ode to diversity and love's enduring power to unite. A message we need to hear—and sing out— most especially in these times."—Sarah McCoy, New York Times and international bestselling author of The Mapmaker's Children
“Fast paced and impeccably researched...A timely, captivating love story that kept me reading long into the night.”—Kristina McMorris, New York Times bestselling author of The Edge of Lost
"With an expert hand, Rosen deftly defines the struggles facing whites, blacks, Jews and immigrants in a changing world that allowed music to bind them together in a heartbreaking yet triumphant song. I was mesmerized from the first page.”—Laura Lane McNeal, author of Dollbaby
"Rosen captures the birth of Chicago blues from its shabby inception to its raucous success. She gives us a world of blacks and Jews, migrants and immigrants, musicians and their admirers. I was engrossed by this novel.”—Mary Morris, author of The Jazz Palace
“Riveting reading, often heartbreaking, with moments of pure elation.”—Shelley Noble, New York Times bestselling author of Whisper Beach
"Windy City Blues is a mesmerizing jazz ballad of a book, riffing easily between deeper themes of ambition, politics, business, love, and violence, but always returning to the central melody: the rock-solid love of an interracial couple standing shoulder to shoulder in the dual rise of the civil rights movement and the blues. They are destined to leave their mark on both in this splendid new tale from Renee Rosen!"—Kate Quinn, author of The Alice Network
"Vivid writing, compelling characters, and a rocking who’s who of Chicago blues' legends make Renee Rosen's sweeping tale of forbidden love and civil rights an intoxicating read.”—Alix Rickloff, author of Secrets of Nanreath Hall
"With Windy City Blues, her impeccably researched take on the rise of the Chicago Blues, Renee Rosen once again demonstrates her mastery of historical fiction. This is a lyrical, heartfelt and immersive tale that transports even as it entertains and enchants."—Jennifer Robson, USA Today bestselling author of Moonlight Over Paris
“For anyone who loves rock-and-roll and the blues, Rosen’s novel is perfection… Rosen skillfully weaves fact and fiction into her story of challenges, triumphs, music and political change. A not-to-be-missed novel that hits all the right notes.”—RT Book Review Top Pick
“Renee Rosen’s multi-layered, melodious story pulses with an exciting rhythm all its own as it brings the music scene of postwar Chicago to thrilling life. Seamlessly interweaving historical and fictional characters, Windy City Blues traces the changes in society over the 1950s and 60s, and the soundtrack that both affected and reflected it. At once gritty and tender, sweet and soulful, it is an unblinking look at America’s past and above all, a story of love for music, for each other, and for life.”—Sarah-Jane Stratford, author of Radio Girls
“Renée Rosen's Windy City Blues is a book as cool as the music that guides the story. But what brings the heat is the love between Jewish Leeba and African-American Red Dupree, as they navigate the explosive Chicago blues scene of the 50s and 60s, while trying to push past the forces intent on tearing them apart. The lyric beat of the era will pull you in to this meticulously researched novel, but the themes of race, identity and forbidden love make Rosen's story as timeless as a good tune.” —Karin Tanabe, author of The Gilded Years
“Rosen puts real characters on the stage and makes them sing and play for their lives. Racial conflict--black, white, Jewish--is front and center, making the struggles and triumphs as relevant to today's world as they were sixty years ago, strumming the same heartbreaking, soulful, all-too-human riff."—Sonja Yoerg, author of All the Best People
About the Author
Renée is the bestselling author of White Collar Girl, What The Lady Wants: A Novel of Marshall Field and the Gilded Age and Dollface: A Novel of the Roaring Twenties as well as the young adult novel, Every Crooked Pot.
Her forthcoming novel, Windy City Blues will be published February 28, 2017 from Penguin Random House. She lives in Chicago where she is currently working on a new novel. Read More