Friday Nights at Honeybee's (Smith)

Book Reviews
Perceptive…penetrating…a rich and satisfying story of women who courageously carve out the lives they want rather than endure those prescribed for them.
Washington Post Book World

A love of music, a gift for song, and a healthy dose of bad judgment (when it comes to men) all harmonize to bring together the stories of two unique women in this accomplished first novel. Brooklyn-born-and-bred Forestine knows better than to count on her looks to take her where she wants to go. Strong-willed and confident, her single-minded ambition and a voice made for jazz will launch her onto the stage despite a lack of willowy beauty. But a passionate moment with her brother-in-law sends her on the road faster than she'd planned, yielding additional unanticipated lessons.

Viola, a South Carolinian beauty, finds herself on the wrong side of the Bible Belt after a brief extramarital dalliance. Excommunicated from her family's church and the only community she's ever known, Viola flees north to New York, a disillusioned young woman seeking to carve out a new life from the sanctuary of Honeybee's boarding house in Harlem.

Honeybee's is a legendary presence on the Harlem music scene. Her notorious Friday night "gathers" draw both well-known and nascent musical talents from far and wide for late-night jam sessions that feature riotous entertainment, authentic southern cooking, and musical networking galore. But Honeybee's is also famous for attracting lost souls, and Forestine and Viola sadly qualify. Though the trials they've been through would have most folks singing the blues to themselves, the hearts of these women are made of stronger stuff, as they prove that two are indeed better than one.
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Two young women unlucky in love but blessed with talent and friendship are at the core of this vibrant first novel.... The warmth and caring of Miss Honeybee's home supports both women through troubled times in this wonderful celebration of music and community. —Michele Leber

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