Inspired by a real-life scandal that was shocking even for the tumultuous Roaring Twenties, this captivating novel tells the story of a pioneering Black journalist, a secret interracial marriage among the New York elite, and the sensational divorce case that ignited an explosive battle over race and class—and brought together three very different women fighting for justice, legitimacy, and the futures they risked everything to shape.
For readers of Dolen Perkins-Valdez, Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray, a transporting work of fact-based historical fiction from Denny S. Bryce, bestselling author of Wild Women and the Blues, In the Face of the Sun, and Can't We Be Friends: A Novel of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe.
New York, 1920s. Born to English immigrants who’ve built a comfortable life, idealistic Alice Jones longs for the kind of true love her mother and father have. She believes she’s found it with Leonard “Kip” Rhinelander, the shy heir to his prominent white family's real estate fortune. Alice, too, is white, though she is vaguely aware of rumors that question her ancestry—gossip her parents dismiss. But when the lovers secretly wed, Kip's father threatens his inheritance unless he annuls the marriage.
Devastated but determined, Alice faces overwhelming odds legally and in the merciless court of public opinion. But there are two people who can either help her—or shatter her hopes for good: In the 1940s, her estranged niece, Roberta Brooks, must put aside her disdain for her infamous aunt to combat an unexpected new Rhinelander legal assault. And in the 1920s, reporter Marvel Cunningham lives to chronicle social change and the Harlem Renaissance's fiery creativity, but when Alice’s story dominates the headlines, Marvel's job is to cover it.
At first, Marvel and Roberta, in different decades, see Alice’s legal entanglements as tabloid sensations generated by a self-hating woman who failed to “pass.” But the deeper they investigate, the more they will learn about the reasons behind Alice Jones’s behavior and what the three women have in common. The Trial of Mrs. Rhinelander will bring to light stunning truths that will force these women to confront who they are and who they can be in a world that is all too quick to judge.
About the Author
Denny S. Bryce is the award-winning author of historical fiction novels including Wild Women and the Blues and In the Face of the Sun. A former professional dancer and public relations professional, she now is an adjunct professor in the MFA program at Drexel University, a book critic for NPR, and a freelance writer whose work has been published in USA Today, Harper’s Bazaar, and FROLIC Media. She is a member of the Historical Novel Society, Women’s Fiction Writers Association, and Tall Poppy Writers. Originally from Chicago, she now resides in Savannah, Georgia and can be found online at DennySBryce.com.
Praise for Denny Bryce:
“The music practically pours out of the pages of Denny S. Bryce’s historical novel, set among the artists and dreamers of the 1920s.” —Oprah Daily on Wild Women and the Blues
“Perfect for fans of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo...a dazzling depiction of passion, prohibition, and murder set in the night club scene of 1925 Chicago.“ —Shelf Awareness on Wild Women and the Blues
“This is the best kind of historical novel: immersive, mysterious and evocative; factual in its history and nuanced in its creativity and connection to the present.” —Ms. Magazine on Wild Women and the Blues
“Perfect…Denny S. Bryce is a superstar!” —Julia Quinn, New York Times bestselling author of the Bridgerton series on Wild Women and the Blues
“Travel back in time to the Jazz Age this summer with this time-hopping read. It follows two stories of a chorus girl in the 1920s and a modern-day film student, past meeting present in a book about loss, forgiveness, and joy.” —The Pioneer Woman, Best Books of Summer on Wild Women and the Blues
“Bryce excels at placing readers in a glamorous time and place. Her 1928 LA is riveting and vibrant…Recommended for historical-fiction readers who like to get lost in a time and place.” —Booklist on In the Face of the Sun
“Evocative and entertaining!” —Laura Kamoie, New York Times bestselling author on Wild Women and the Blues
“Wild Women and the Blues deftly delivers what historical fiction has been missing.” —Farrah Rochon USA Today bestselling author on Wild Women and the Blues
“All the glitz and glamour of Jazz Age Chicago, along with all the mob violence, is artfully described by the Bryce in this richly told, historical fiction debut.” —Booklist on Wild Women and the Blues
“The author deftly weaves fiction with reality and paints a vibrant picture of the sparkling yet seedy era…Perfect for fans of light historical fiction led by a complex heroine.” —Kirkus Reviews on Wild Women and the Blues
“Immersive and exciting, Denny S. Bryce’s Wild Women and the Blues [is] a vibrant novel that gathers elements of Chicago’s jazz past together.” —Foreword Reviews
“An ambitious and stunning debut novel…With a sparkling cocktail of evocative detail, world-wise characters and heartfelt prose, Bryce celebrates the glam, danger, and promise of Chicago during the Jazz Age, giving readers an intricate, multi-generational story.” —Stephanie Dray, New York Times bestselling author on Wild Women and the Blues
“Denny S. Bryce paints a vibrant picture of the 1920s Jazz Age in this alluring and well-researched novel. Ritzy dance clubs, bootleg whiskey, chorus girls, gangsters, celebrities, secrets, and murder, WILD WOMEN AND THE BLUES has it all! A highly entertaining read!” —Ellen Marie Wiseman New York Times Bestselling author of The Orphan Collector
“A scintillating debut that whisks you away on a gritty yet glamorous ride through Chicago’s Bronzeville district during the Jazz Age...a highly intriguing and entertaining story.” —Jamie Beck, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author on Wild Women and the Blues
“Denny did her research and it shows: she accurately includes notable historical figures within the story line and provides a list of additional titles for further reading. The small details describing the experience of a Black Chicagoan in the 1920s (from dress and entertainment to slang and the sense of community) create a vivid background for this cast of engaging characters. The slowly revealed mysterious connections between families tie the book’s two time periods together. VERDICT Readers looking for solid historical fiction or complicated relationships, or to gain new insights into underrepresented points of view, will enjoy this book.” —Library Journal on Wild Women and the Blues
“Wild Women and The Blues weaves together two equally ‘engaging’ stories.” —SheReads
“A brilliant debut, full of atmosphere and wonderfully immersive history.” —Cultured Vultures on Wild Women and the Blues