A KISS FROM MR FITZGERALD
Author: Natasha Lester
Hachette RRP $29.99
Review: Monique Mulligan
In 2012, Natasha Lester was my guest at one of my early Stories on Stage events. Few of the audience had heard of her; I was the only one who had read her two books. She was polished and professional; in fact, she was so well prepared that audience members were left open-mouthed at the end of her talk. Fast forward three-and-a-half years. These days, through a combination of sheer hard work, belief and talent, Natasha is very well known in the Perth writing community. She’s highly regarded for her writing courses, talks and envied for her writing talent. My prediction is that with her latest book, A Kiss From Mr Fitzgerald, Natasha Lester’s name will be on many more lips, Australia-wide and beyond. It’s everything I expected and then some.
When Evelyn Lockhart moves to Manhattan to follow her dream of becoming a doctor, she is introduced to a world beyond her well-brought up imagining. It’s the roaring twenties, and those who can enjoy the gin-and-jazz-infused nightlife, do. In order to support herself through medical school, Evie auditions for the late-night Ziegfeld Follies, somehow managing to juggle the heavy workload, while maintaining high grades. She has to. She’s fighting to be accepted in a male-dominated world, against the wishes of her family, the conservative world of her childhood, and Charlie, the childhood best friend everyone expects her to marry. No one cares that the life that’s been mapped out for her is not what she wants. No one, except Charlie’s older brother, Upper East Side banker Thomas Whitman, a man Evie finds herself falling in love with. But can she have it all? Are her life choices too scandalous, even for Thomas to bear?
His hand was frozen on his jacket pocket, covering the Tiffany’s box that was no doubt hidden inside. The Tiffany’s box that any other girl in the world would give her right arm for. For a single moment, Evie wished she was normal. That all she wanted was to be married and have babies. Then she could say yes and Charlie would smile… (p99)
Evocative and exquisitely imagined, A Kiss From Mr Fitzgerald is a love story with much to offer readers. The romance quivers with tension, conflict and and chemistry. The setting is beautifully drawn, full of detail, atmosphere, and life. The characters are rendered with authenticity, from Evie’s determination and tenacity to Charlie’s spiteful possessiveness. The love story is teased out, making readers ache for resolution, among a backdrop of changing gender roles, the redefinition of social rights and wrongs, the grasp for freedom, and voices fighting to be heard.
Natasha Lester has delivered something remarkable and memorable with A Kiss From Mr Fitzgerald. From cover to cover, it’s reader heaven.
Available from good bookstores. My copy was courtesy of Hachette Australia.