No villains here—a charmingly ordinary novel that follows decent people over several decades.
Debut novelist Murphy introduces Ty “Bird” Partridge, a young man growing up in Greenstone, Missouri, in roughly the present time. The Irish-American Partridges have lived in Greenstone for several generations, and it is assumed that Partridge men will spend their lives working the coal mines and being grateful for it. But that’s not for young Bird. He finds a mentor in old Pop Bradford, owner of the local soda shop and a former swing dancer. That’s the life Bird wants, but of course it causes a deep and bitter rift between him and his father. Nevertheless, after winning a local swing competition, it’s off to New York City for Bird once he graduates high school. It’s tough being a hick in the big city, but Nadia Slovinskia, Russian émigré, takes him under her wing. He becomes an instructor at her dance school, The Silver Slipper, in Manhattan, and not long after, he marries his dance partner and love of his life, Alexandra Carbone. But Ty—he’s only “Bird” back home—must reconcile with his father. Given Ty’s success—he and Alex buy The Silver Slipper when Nadia retires—Charles Partridge realizes that he should have trusted and respected his son’s ambition. Ty in turns realizes that his dad only wanted the best for him as he saw it. The other real test comes when, after the birth of their twin daughters, Alex sinks into postpartum depression. Murphy’s description is frightening, the progress slow, and readers will ache for Alex. But her and Ty’s love survives and defeats it, though other trials follow, as they always do. Murphy shows a sure hand and a keen eye for detail in this first outing. She cares for these characters even as she painfully shows how bad things can happen to good people. Alex and Ty prevail, but it’s hardly a walk in the park.
Comforting food for the soul, nourishing and tasty.