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In the summer of 1959, plucky North Carolinian Emma Gant escapes overbearing parents to begin her career as a reporter at the Miami Star. Lodged at the colorful Julia Tuttle Hotel (a fictional Florida property named after Miami's real-life founder), Emma meets a group of Cuban families who've recently fled Fidel Castro. Emma spends her days learning the ropes as a reporter and her nights bantering (in broken Spanish) with the eclectic group of exiles. She also arranges rendezvous with her married lover, Paul, an innkeeper largely responsible for her decision to move South. Godwin, a three-time National Book Award nominee, taps into her experiences as a fledgling Florida journalist to render a tale whose ambling, amiable plot is redeemed by a cast of memorable characters. Among them are an arms-smuggling dentist, a diminutive German perfumer, a nefarious reporter with an "overall gleaming effect," and a distinguished academic who flees Cuba with his memoir stitched into his wife's wedding dress. Topping the list of provocative personalities is Ginevra Brown, aka the Queen of the Underworld, a former Miami madam once betrothed to a mobster. Readers who can't get enough Godwin can snap up the first installment of her two-volume memoir, The Making of a Writer: Journals, 1961–1963, also due out this month (and reviewed on p. 44). (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Emma Gant is smart, regal, and ambitious. In spite of a rough childhood, she has graduated from the journalism program at Chapel Hill, and scored a plum job at the Miami Star. It's 1959 and although "career women" are highly suspect, Emma, as confident about her womanly allure as she is about her journalistic skills, is set to take Miami by storm. She has some stiff competition, however, from an actual hurricane and a tidal wave of upper-class Cuban refugees fleeing Castro. But the hurricane allows her to meet someone she is intensely curious about, the Queen of the Underworld, a "Georgia fruit-stand beauty" turned Mafia darling and madam. And thanks to Tess, a close friend of her mother's who works with a Cuban dentist on a secret mission far more dramatic than filling cavities, Emma finds herself surrounded by a group of lively and intriguing Cubans. Emma also has a secret mission, a love affair with a prominent married man. Shrewdly observant, Godwin's goddess-in-the-making quickly learns how to go with the flow in a radiant bildungsroman that is kin to Ward Just's An Unfinished Season (2004), albeit far more blithe and optimistic. A master stylist with a dozen novels to her credit, Godwin has never written more voluptuously, nor had as much fun with a character or setting. Readers will want to search for the autobiographical inspiration for this ravishing novel in Godwin's early journals, which are due out soon. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.