Renee at It’s Book Talk began this meme as a way to share old favourites, as well as books that were published over a year ago. Not to mention those that are languishing on the to be read pile for whatever reason.
I’d like to showcase The 20’s Girl, The Ghost and All That Jazz this week. It was written by June Kearns and published in 2013, the second book by the author, both of which I love.
1924. The English Shires, after the Great War.
When her jazzing flapper of an aunt dies, Gerardina Mary Chiledexter inherits some silver-topped scent bottles, a wardrobe of love-affair clothes, and astonishingly, a half-share in a million-acre ranch in south-west Texas.
Haunted by a psychic cat and the ghost voice of that aunt Leonie, Gerry feels driven to travel thousands of miles to see the ranch for herself.
Against a background of big sky, cattle barons and oil wells, she is soon engaged in a game of power, pride and ultimately, love, with the Texan who owns the other half.
Gerardina Chiledexter struggles to maintain the bookshop she inherited after her beloved aunt Leonie’s death. Leonie was beyond glamorous, free spending with a lavish lifestyle hence the mountain of debt Gerry was also left with. When an impassive American named Cooper arrives at the bookshop one day, all the way from Texas, with the news Gerry has inherited half his cattle ranch, she is at first disbelieving then incredulous. As is Cooper, having expected Gerry to be a man.
Staring at shoulder length hair and an unshaven face, browned by wind and sun, Gerry was reminded again that this was not the sort of look often seen in Lower Shepney Market. Poker straight partings and regimented haircuts were the mark of a gentleman here.
Gerry has all but made up her mind to sell her portion of the ranch to Cooper and invest the proceeds in the bookshop when she is given a letter left with her aunt’s will. Leonie wants Gerry to wait six months before deciding whether or not to sell, and in the meantime visit the ranch herself. Gerry’s decision is made with a little prompting from beyond the veil and her own desire for change and a little excitement.
Gerry packs her trunks with the wardrobe of wonderful Parisian haute couture also left to her by Leonie and sets out on her adventure. She eventually arrives at Jericho Wells, tired, dusty and without her luggage. Left waiting for hours before being delivered to the Circle O ranch, she feels less than welcome.
June Kearns has a wonderful, witty and charming writing style. Her characters are appealing, realistic and so well drawn, the settings authentic and vivid, a testament to the depth of research of period and place. From the extremes of the English village, with its surrounding damp, green countryside and distinct lack of eligible men, to the open and immense expanse of the hot, dusty Texan landscape, peopled mostly by men and longhorn cattle, the descriptions are exceptional.
I love the touch of the supernatural and how it’s threaded through the story with the drifting scent of Leonie’s favourite perfume and the guiding voice whispering in Gerry’s ear, all the way to Igor the entertaining and other worldly cat. The romance aspect is perfect, the tall, handsome and taciturn cowboy and the polite, quintessentially English lady. An amusing, captivating and very engaging read.
Again, as with The Englishwoman’s Guide to the Cowboy, I love the wonderfully representative quotes at the beginning of each chapter, this one from Advice to Miss-All-Alone, 1924 ~ ‘Women approaching thirty may have lost all chance of inspiring affection.’
And this gem from The Bachelor Girl’s Handbook, 1924 ~ ‘Bachelor girls sometimes fall into free and easy ways. This is a mistake and may lead to serious trouble.’