Published: June 3, 2014
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fairy Tales
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.
I am a fan of both historical fiction set in the Jazz age and fairy tales, but I didn't realize that this was a retelling of "The 12 Dancing Princesses" until I after I had finished it and read a few other reviews. That being said, the story did seem oddly familiar to me--but in a good way.
The premise on its own is a little outlandish--a man with 12 daughters, some of whom he has never met, keeps them locked up in the attic and, at night, they all sneak out to go dancing. However, I think the vague familiarity with the fairy tale (even though I didn't realize it) made it easy for me to buy the premise.
I did really enjoy this book. The character of Jo was very well written and, while most of the other sisters don't get an in depth treatment (because, you know, there are 12 of them!), they were still interesting to me. That being said, I will admit that I did get a few of them mixed up from time to time--but I think anyone would because there are 12 of them!
The story does move along at a good clip. In fact, my only complaint about this book is that I wish it had gone deeper at times. Still, it was a fun read and definitely worth a place on beach read lists for the summer!
I received an electronic copy of this book in return for an honest review. I received no other compensation for this post.