Tales Of The Twenties

Who doesn’t love the 1920s? Flirty flappers, sexy speakeasies and fast cars, it’s a time rife with change. With gay parties and bright young things determined to have a good time despite the worries lurking when the parties end, there is inherent conflict in the time. Beyond the parties that the era is best known for, It was an age of social unrest, of turbulent politics and a population determined to find new ways after the old ones had led to war and sadness.

In Let’s Misbehave, out this month by Rae Summers, Gabrielle and Simon struggle with their identities in 1920s England. Gabrielle has already left behind the past, eschewing her noble heritage to become a modern woman. Simon is caught between his desire to live a life “full of spontaneity and joy” and his obligation to his family’s birthright. Both characters are seeking to fill an emotional emptiness and discover what being a "modern" person really entails. This novella is a quick ride that RT Reviewer Kate Gerard says, “conveys a depth of feeling that is not reached by many novels triple its size.”


Novels set in the 1920s take many different forms, tackling the depth of emotion and upheaval in the age. They range from the humorous to the serious and are peppered with characters we know — from flappers and mobsters to social activists and war heroes.

New to the time period, or simply looking for something different? Here are my top five 1920s reading suggestions:

  Last month RT BOOK REVIEWS awarded Alaya Johnson the Seal of Excellence for her series starter Moonshine. The staff was wowed by Johnson’s flawless integration of the historical and paranormal romance in this this 20s tale about a social activist. Readers may remember how much we loved heroine Zephyr, who reminded us of a more civic minded Susan Vance from the classic screwball comedy Bringing Up Baby. If you haven't seen it yet, Johnson shared her inspiration for Moonshine in this RT exclusive video interview.


  If you are looking for a heavy historical fiction about the 1920s, I suggest Hidden by Victoria Lustbader. The novel won an RT Reviewers' Choice Award nomination for best historical fiction of the year. It is a return to the “family-saga format that was so popular in the '80s, which RT Reviewer Bunny Callahan praises, calling the characters “vibrant and full-bodied.” The story abounds with class differences and social taboos as two families become increasingly intertwined.


  The mystery Free Love by Annette Meyers makes my list because the  of the author’s deft skill “capturing the sights, sounds and spirit of the twenties.” When modern woman Olivia discovers a corpse on the steps of her home, she must discover the identity of the killer before she becomes the next victim. History buffs will also enjoy that Olivia’s character is loosely based on historical figure Edna St. Vincent St. Millay, who was the first woman to receive a Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.


  The inspirational novel Through Waters Roar by Lynn Austin is another great 1920s read. It follows the journey of social activist Harriet who is thrown in jail for carrying contraband and must wrestle with her family's expectations of who she should be. This 4-1/2 star story charmed RT Reviewer Patsy Glans who said “It's a must-read for anyone who likes the fight for justice.”


  For a lighter take on the era, turn to Marianne Mancusi’s time travel romance, What No Roses? When contemporary heroine Dora Duncan is whisked back to the 20s to stop a Valentine’s Day massacre, the result is “a romance that's fast, funny and as bubbly as bathtub champagne.” This premise was carried out so well, it won Mancusi the 2006 RT Reviewers' Choice Award for Most Innovative Historical Romance.

I hope you enjoy these 1920s suggestions. If you are still looking for more, don’t miss the great 1920s reading list on the RT Forum. And be sure to leave a comment if you have any 1920s favorites that I missed!