by Ruta Sepetys

Reviewer Rating:


Working mornings as the clean-up girl at a bordello in New Orleans is not as near and dear to Josie’s heart as her other job at Marlowe’s Bookstore in 1950.   Surrounding her are Willie, the tough madam who knows how to run things, Cokie, the chauffeur, Patrick and Charlie Marlowe who own the bookstore and are respectively a virtuoso pianist and a writer gone mad. Her own mother is one of Willie's girls and has betrayed her in the past. One day, a young woman comes into the bookstore, assuming that Josie will attend college and that her own school in Massachusetts,  Smith, would be just the place for a smart young thing like her. Josie latches onto that idea as both novel and impossible, but devoutly to be wished.  The French Quarter, it’s culture and residents of the time add spice and variety. There’s a careful walk that happens as the author acknowledges the ubiquitous power and evil of sex for pay while still maintaining Josie’s own innocence. A tame walk on the wild side with a mystery that pulls it together. The real draw is the portrayal of Josie’s place and time. 

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