Tuesday, July 9, 2013
Out of the Easy
Josie never had the luxury of a normal life. Her mother is a prostitute and is always chasing men with money, and this search led her to Willie Woodley's brothel in New Orleans. Josie found herself surrounded by "nieces" in the care of Willie until she started working for bookstore owner Charlie Marlowe at a young age. Now as a young woman, she meets Charlotte in the bookstore, an upper class girl that attends Smith College, and a kind man named Forest Hearne who leaves a quick bright impression with Josie, although he ends up dead later that night at a French Quarter bar. Then, Josie's mother is connected to the death, and her abusive boyfriend Cincinnati is back in town. This is a full story about a good girl leaving a bad situation, but some of the worst parts have nothing to do with fast living and brothels. It is a moving story that will leave readers cheering for Josie and her friends.
When I say this was a full book, I mean it. The story revolves around Josie, but the side characters are all honestly fascinating. There's Charlie, the bookstore owner who is losing his mind and his son Patrick who is hiding a dangerous secret. There's Willie, the brothel madame, and her group of girls who are all genuine and well rounded characters. There are upper class men that come to the brothel for a good time, but get there own in the end, there are mob bosses that pose real danger. Then there's the French Quarter itself that is both beautiful, exciting, and threatening. The setting and characterizations are so rich that readers will be completely absorbed.
This is a mature book, but it is not smutty. The business of the brothel is talked about frankly, but not in a crude manner. Willie was running a smart business, and even though Josie has plenty of offers to go into that business, she can't do it and that scene will leave readers cheering. Despite the initially unsavory nature of the brothel, it feels wholesome on some level, since everyone wants more for Josie than they have for themselves.
The ending ran off the rails a little for me. Suddenly there was a lot of drama and heartache that I felt was unnecessary. But the ending gave Josie a choice and means to make that choice.
This book is so much more than this review. It's a beautiful, unexpected story that will capture readers. I have to say that anyone that loves New Orleans should read this and anyone that doesn't think they like historical fiction should give it a try too because this will make a history fan out of anyone.