Review - The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine

The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine
Narrated by Susie Berneis
Publisher: Atria Books / Dreamscape Media LLC
Publication Date: June 3, 2014
Date Read: May 6, 2019
Length: 288 pages / 8 hours 44 minutes
Source: NetGalley / Library
From award-winning author Genevieve Valentine, a "gorgeous and bewitching" (Scott Westerfeld) reimagining of the fairytale of the Twelve Dancing Princesses as flappers during the Roaring Twenties in Manhattan.

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.

With The Girls at the Kingfisher Club, award-winning writer Genevieve Valentine takes her superb storytelling gifts to new heights, joining the leagues of such Jazz Age depicters as Amor Towles and Paula McClain, and penning a dazzling tale about love, sisterhood, and freedom.
My Review

I did like this book.  I have had a review copy of this book for a very long time and I have to admit that I didn't remember a whole lot about what the book was about when I got started with it.  I now realize that this book is a retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses.  I have a small confession to make...I don't know a lot of fairytales well.  I pretty much know what Disney has covered.  I was discussing this book with my teenage daughter after I finished it and was reminded that we once had the Barbie version of the story.  So I can't really make any comparisons to the original story but I thought it was enjoyable on its own.

Jo is the oldest of twelve girls.  She lives in the attic along with her sisters.  Her mother is gone but she rarely saw her anyway.  Jo is the one who really takes care of her sisters and also deals with their father's demands.  The girls have one bright spot in their lives and that is dancing.  Once the house goes quiet, they sneak out to dance at the local clubs.  They know all of the dances and are quite popular with the gentlemen looking for a partner.

I liked Jo and respected her dedication to her sisters.  Some of her sisters didn't even realize how much she gave up for them.  I also really liked the second oldest sister, Lou.  I loved the relationship between Lou and Jo and thought that they really worked well as a team.  I must say that I had a really difficult time keeping a lot of the sisters straight and felt that they just kind of blended together.  There were a couple of other characters that stood out in the story, like Tom, but I do wish that I would have had a better feel for all of the sister's personalities.

I chose to listen to this story and thought that Susie Berneis did a great job with the story.  I think that she handled the character voices very well and the dialogue in the story flowed well.  I think that she was able to add excitement to the story as well.  I found her voice to be very pleasant and easy to listen to for hours at a time.

I would recommend this book to others.  I think that readers who enjoy retellings or books set in the Jazz Age will enjoy this story.  I wouldn't hesitate to read more of Genevieve Valentine's work.

I received a digital review copy of this book from Atria Books via NetGalley and borrowed a copy of the audiobook from my local library.
About the Author

Genevieve Valentine is the author of Persona and of the critically acclaimed novel Mechanique: A Tale of the Circus Tresaulti, which won the Crawford Award for Best novel, as well as a nomination for the Nebula Award and the Romantic Times Best Fantasy of the Year. Her short fiction has been nominated for a World Fantasy Award and the Shirley Jackson Award. She lives in New York City.

Author Links: Website | Twitter


  1. I only know they danced and I guess a prince had to save them

  2. I'm always curious about stories set during this period

  3. I was dying to read this when it first came out and then forgot about it. Thanks for the reminder and for the heads up about enjoying the audiobook. I'm the same way with fairy tales. I know the Disney version and that's just about it.

  4. I've had my eye on this one because of the setting, I thought it sounded interesting.

  5. I don't know much about fairy tales either, except that the original ones are a lot more brutal than the Disney versions. Usually. Sometimes when I go back and watch an old Disney one, though, I'm shocked that it's a movie for kids. There are several fairy tales I don't like at all. The Little Mermaid is based on a Hans Christian Anderson one that was super sad if I remember correctly. Yeah, not my cup of tea when I want my entertainment to be uplifting and happy. There's enough sad tales in real life that I don't like to do them in my fiction/entertainment. Glad you mostly enjoyed this one, Carole. :)

  6. I don't know anything about the fairytale or book I'm afraid! Sounds like you enjoyed it for the most part.

  7. Wow, that is so interesting about that this a twelve dancing princesses retelling book! No one really does a retelling of that book. I know that fairytale fairly well, but not incredibly well. It sounds like this was just an okay read in the end.

  8. I know this fairytale in a few different forms. I wouldn't say it is a favorite. I'm glad you were able to enjoy it.

    Anne - Books of My Heart


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