SWING SISTERS by Jeane Westin


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 A bouncy cornball from Westin (Love and Glory, 1985) that hits all the blue notes in a sentimental journey through the Big Band era--featuring a quartet of women musicians with offset woes who strain for some professional respect as artists in an all-male province. Among the four, there's a calamity-prone singer with heavy, heavy troubles. There're plenty of wails from downhearted frails--in 1937 and later--among the Swing Sisters, an all-female band led by an ex- burley queen. On drums, the tough, jiving Ros must hide her sexual preference; at the piano, arranger Sara longs for love after two exploitive men; on trumpet, Tonia holds the torch for Charlie, black grandson of a family servant, and passes as a Latin singer. But the trio is just a backup for the talent of chirper Lovey Anderson--from Chicago via Oklahoma, married at 15 to a vicious hellfire preacher and mother of a dead child. Ted Dunham, the band's manager, falls hard. Then enter mean mobster Lucky Ross. When Lovey, over-boozing off and on, splits from Lucky, there'll be Vengeance City, involving gruesome murders, a frame-up that sends her to jail, etc., while a classy, retiring cinema leading man and lover Ted try to keep pace with Lucky's strikes--on tour, in New York and Hollywood. But Lovey, after a fire and deaths and a big discovery, disappears. Forever? At a 1982 reunion concert, Ted, offstage, dreams...and then ``a voice grabbed him....'' Ex-cats and chicks can amuse themselves by casting this- -Saturday-night-at-the-Roxy style. (George Raft for Lucky, of course. Hayworth for Lovey?) And then for aging killer-dillers, there's the brush of a beat for the hep talk of grand old bandstand nights.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1991
ISBN: 0-684-19222-5
Page count: 576pp
Publisher: Scribner
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1991