It’s a cloudy spring day here in Kentucky and I’m sitting by my open door with rapidly cooling coffee, singing birds, and peaceful piano music. The perfect setting for sharing my favorite read of 2021 with y’all, right?
ABOUT THE BOOK
The one thing Sylvie Townsend wants most is what she feared she was destined never to have–a family of her own. But taking in Polish immigrant Rose Dabrowski to raise and love quells those fears–until seventeen-year-old Rose goes missing at the World’s Fair, and Sylvie’s world unravels.
Brushed off by the authorities, Sylvie turns to her boarder, Kristof Bartok, for help. He is Rose’s violin instructor and the concertmaster for the Columbian Exposition Orchestra, and his language skills are vital to helping Sylvie navigate the immigrant communities where their search leads.
From the glittering architecture of the fair to the dark houses of Chicago’s poorest neighborhoods, they’re taken on a search that points to Rose’s long-lost family. Is Sylvie willing to let the girl go? And as Kristof and Sylvie grow closer, can she reconcile her craving for control with her yearning to belong?
Why I Choose this Book
Will I ever not want to read a Jocelyn Green book ASAP? Probably not. Her writing is beautiful, and even if I don’t like the setting or plot, I still enjoy how she weaves the storyline so convincingly and pulls me into the book.
What I Thought about the Book
The first book in the saga – Veiled in Smoke – was set in a place that I don’t enjoy reading about (Chicago), during a time period I don’t like reading about (the Great Fire), and yet I still ended up enjoying the book because Jocelyn’s writing is amazing. Going into Shadows of the White City I expected some of the same, aka, not enjoying the setting but being wrapped up in the writing.
But, ohhh, was I wrong. This story may have changed my mind about books that are set in Chicago because I enjoyed it so thoroughly it gave me a new appreciation for the city. It takes place in 1893 during the World’s Fair, and was incredibly interesting to read about. Jocelyn does a fantastic job of weaving historical facts into her stories without making it feel like she’s cramming information into her books. For instance, in this book, one of the main characters gave tours at the World Fair, and sometimes we as the reader got to go along and experience it with the guests. Such a brilliant way to write the cool facts into the story.
Not only did we get to see the intriguing setting of the World’s Fair, but there was a compelling plotline and interesting, and multi-layered characters to round out the reading experience. At the beginning of the book, I was a bit unsure of how I would enjoy the large time gap between Veiled in Smoke and this one, but Jocelyn pulled it off magnificently well and wrote a book whose main character was a middle-aged woman in such a way that she felt relatable.
There weren’t any characters whose point-of-view I disliked reading from, which is rare for me when it comes to a book with multiple POV. Each of the characters who we got to follow had compelling stories – from Sylvie with her need for control to Rose with her hunger for answers. Kristof was delightful and sweet and I could feel his pain as he tried to figure out the correct way to be a good brother.
The exploration of lost and pieced together families, cultures colliding, the danger of the era, and a lack of answers kept me from putting down the book. I wanted to read more, more, more. When I got to the end of the story and all the pieces had slid into place I was thankful that I’d gotten to go along for the literary adventure. It’s my current favorite of 2021.
This book is the second one in the saga, but it can easily be read first or as a standalone. (If reading it first, it will give a few spoilers.) I enjoyed the story a lot and can’t wait to read Jocelyn’s next release.
I’m giving Shadows of the White City 4 out of 5 stars. Thank you to Bethany House Publishers for sending me a copy of the book so I could post this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.