A Discussion with Amber Brock: The Glamour and Turmoil of New York, Miami, and Havana in the 1950s
Hub City Bookshop will host author and Spartanburg native Amber Brock at 2 p.m., Sunday, July 29, to sign her new novel Lady Be Good. Amber will give a talk, "The Glamour and Turmoil of New York, Miami, and Havana in the 1950s," to be followed by a Q&A session.
In her intoxicating debut A Fine Imitation, published by Crown in 2016, Amber Brock established herself as a captivating new voice in the world of historical fiction. Now, Lady Be Good marks her mesmerizing return, introducing Kitty Tessler, the status-obsessed daughter of hotel magnate Nicolas Tessler. Kitty’s glamorous world is built upon her beauty and her father’s money, both of which she uses as social capital to navigate the electric 1950’s nightlife of three iconic cities: New York, Miami, and Havana.
Kitty wears her nail polish like war paint as she gallivants around New York City with the affluent boys who frequent her father’s clubs. But her socialite routine comes to a screeching halt when her father, set on seeing his daughter settle down as he approaches retirement, presents her with an awful ultimatum: she must either marry her father’s second-in-command Andre to secure her rightful place as the heiress of the Tessler hotel empire, or assume a position as a hotel maid and learn the value of hard work and commitment. Kitty is unsure of what she fears more: being trapped in a loveless engagement or sacrificing her expensive lifestyle.
Meanwhile, Kitty’s best friend and confidante Henrietta has also found herself condemned to a hopeless marriage arranged by her aristocratic family. Hen’s fiancé is Charles Remington, a devilishly handsome gentleman who occupies just the right position on the social register but comes with one devastating flaw: he is an unrepentant womanizer whose exploits are the talk of the town. As loyal as she is clever, Kitty devises a plan that will hopefully save both women from a lifetime of misery.
Then Kitty meets Max, a musician visiting New York from her father’s Miami club, who sees through her glossy façade and forces her to reflect on what lies beneath it. Kitty is transfixed by Max’s music from the first time she hears him play, but despite her infatuation, she’s determined to follow through with her scheme to upend her father’s repulsive demands. Accompanied by the loyal Henrietta and Max’s bandmate Sebastian, Kitty travels to Miami and Cuba and finds herself falling deeply for Max. As the two would-be lovers spend more and more time together, Kitty begins to recognize both the beauty and the injustice of a world entirely different from her insular corner of Manhattan—Kitty is forced to consider the cost of privilege, the nature of choice, and the insidiousness of societal pressure. For the first time, she has something to lose.
Brock’s writing is as graceful and quick-witted as her protagonist in this story that proves even the most well-plotted of plans is vulnerable to desire. Lady Be Good will seduce readers with its portrayal of New York and Miami during the ritziest of urban eras, and its enthralling cast of characters, rife with romantic chemistry and complex female friendships, will captivate until the very last page.
Amber Brock teaches British literature at an all-girls' school in Atlanta. She holds an MA from the University of Georgia and lives in Smyrna with her husband, also an English teacher, and their three rescue dogs.