Title: The Saturday Evening Girls Club
Author: Jane Healey
Genre: Historical Fiction, Women’s Literature
No. of Pages (Paperback): 250
Date Published: April 25th of 2017
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Synopsis (via Goodreads):
For four young immigrant women living in Boston’s North End in the early 1900s, escaping tradition doesn’t come easy. But at least they have one another and the Saturday Evening Girls Club, a social pottery-making group offering respite from their hectic home lives—and hope for a better future.
Ambitious Caprice dreams of opening her own hat shop, which clashes with the expectations of her Sicilian-born parents. Brilliant Ada secretly takes college classes despite the disapproval of her Russian Jewish father. Stunning Maria could marry anyone yet guards her heart to avoid the fate of her Italian Catholic mother, broken down by an alcoholic husband. And shy Thea is torn between asserting herself and embracing an antiquated Jewish tradition.
The friends face family clashes and romantic entanglements, career struggles and cultural prejudice. But through their unfailing bond, forged through their weekly gathering, they’ll draw strength—and the courage to transform their immigrant stories into the American lives of their dreams.
Rate: 4 of 5
I had no high hopes for this book when I picked it up assuming that it would just be another one of my endeavors in reading Historical Fiction again after quite a while. And the cover didn’t speak to me so much at the time. What I didn’t expect is how immersive and beautiful both the writing and the story will be. I was completely taken aback when this book became the object of my adoration for the four days that I’ve read it.
The story, basically, constitutes the lives of four young ladies namely: Caprice, Ada, Maria, and Thea. What ensues after are the struggles of young immigrant women chasing the American dream amidst issues that were very much present at the time (and, in some cases, even until today) such as independence, cultural separation, religious conflicts, and the matters of the heart.
I might say, I adored the way the author painted the traits of each of the characters in their little clique of four. (#squadgoals! :P) I liked how each person has their own characteristics that is unique to them. Caprice is smart and driven, Ada is book-smarts and meek, Maria is beautiful and brave, and lastly, Thea is gentle and pure. The combination of the four has quite the beautiful effect in the story since these characters make the bland backdrop of the Saturday Evening Girls Club and make a life out of it. (ALTHOUGH I HAVE A MAJOR QUESTION: Why are there only three girls on the cover? Why?!) They gave new meaning to the story-flow. Oftentimes, I found myself wanting to see what the next development would be in their lives. It’s like watching people develop from their seemingly comfortable life into something more. The setting of the story was very much outlined that I felt I understood their neighbourhood–if that makes sense? I thought that aspect was so cool.
The style of writing didn’t bore me, as well. Which struck me unusual especially because I often find myself sleepy when I read Historical Fiction-type of books. (I read at night before I go to bed, okay? :D) I can’t quite put my finger on it but it’s neither slow nor fast in pace but rather something that you can keep up with and it’s just…not boring. (I’m having such difficulty conveying this!) It’s just not dragging at all. It’s not exactly a page-turner but it demands your attention after a few chapters in.
What may perhaps be the thing that made me straight-up giddy about this book is the style of romance-writing–it was very sweet and innocent in nature but it’s neither cheesy nor sappy, at the same time. I liked it because it has this classy tone to it. It made my heart flutter. (OMG, Jane Healey you’re so good at the romance thing! :P)
“My knees almost buckled and I felt a little dizzy at the sight of him. How was it that just seeing someone could cause a physical reaction?”
The last thing that sealed the deal was the issues that this tackled. The struggle for independence, cultural clashes, conflict on religious beliefs, education, and the issues of the heart made this novel more colorful. Most of these issues rang a familiar bell in me since some are close to my heart.
“It made me crazy. I had to hand over my entire pay for the week while Frankie gave them half of his. Because I was a daughter and not a son, I was a servant to my family. No money of my own. No chance for any sort of independence. I needed this to change. Soon.”
I enjoyed this novel very much and if chances that Jane Healey writes another book arises, I’m sure to take a chance on it again. This reminded me on why I love historical fiction. (But then again, I love many a things when it comes to books! :P)
Do I recommend it? Yup!
OTHER THOUGHTS (SOME SPOILERS AHEAD)
Of course, I do have some qualms with some of the aspect of the story. One thing that especially irked me was that I wished there was a final resolve with the story of the girls rather than just what I felt was an abrupt ending. I would have loved to know if they ended up with the situations I was wishing them to!
- Would Ada get to end up with Dominic?
- What will happen to Maria?
- Will Thea have such a sparkling married life?
- Will Caprice’s millinery be a success? And will she end up with Sal?
So many questions!
*It wasn’t up until the end that I was brought into attention that this was taken from a real-life thing in the early 1900s. Having said that, I wished that the author had outlined the club more rather than making it a backdrop of what’s happening in the little clique of the four young ladies. I mean, that’s interesting enough, BUT it could’ve had taken the meaning of the title to the next level, you know?
*Cover image and Synopsis via Goodreads
*Big thanks to the publisher for giving me the chance to read an advanced copy of the book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review!
*I’m a Book Depository affiliate, which means for every purchase you make using the link above, I get a teensy bit of commission. 🙂