Tag Archives: speculative fiction

When Franny Stands Up by Eden Robbins

Standard
When Franny Stands Up by Eden Robbins

Robbins, Eden. When Franny Stands Up. Sourcebooks Landmark, 2022. 400 pp. ISBN 978-1728256009 $16.99

****
I am a huge fan of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. HUGE. By 20 pages in, this felt at first like a disappointing rip-off in a magical realism/urban fantasy setting. Like Midge, Franny is Jewish, uncensored, has a posturing lesbian mentor, and her idol, the infamous Boopsie Baxter, is a takeoff on Moms Mobley. Unlike Midge, Franny doesn’t have a husband or ex, but she does rails against some of the same 1950s era women’s rights issues in terms of labor and cultural expectations. This speculative fiction novel, grounded in a post WWII Jewish setting, quickly hits its stride.

Franny, in her late teens, escapes downtown in 1940s Manhattan to catch Boopsie’s act. Intrigued by an interview in which the comedianne talked about the IT quality that kills in the business that the paper doesn’t name, Franny sets out to discover just what a “Showstopper” is.

Fast forward a few years, and after an unsavory incident with her best friend’s brother in a back of car, Franny is so traumatized at being made to dance with him at wedding that she runs out, lands at a comedy club, and heckles until she’s tossed out (very similar to Midge’s showing up in her negligee after her husband asks for a divorce). One thing leads to another and soon she has been taken under the wing of a group of (possibly lesbian) stand up comics, trying to break into a career.

The food, slang, fashions and hairstyles of the WWII era add so much to the setting, and the writing is dreamy. The process of joke writing as emotional and physical catharsis for trauma is compelling and I cheered when Franny found her voice, took risks, defied convention and her parents, and spoke her truth. The novel addresses redlining, anti-Semitism, feminism, and family alongside the War.

I received a free advance reader’s review copy of #FrannyStandsUp from #NetGalley.

Rivals (American Royals #3) by Katherine McGee

Standard
Rivals (American Royals #3) by Katherine McGee

McGee, Katherine. Rivals (American Royals #3). Random House, 2022. ISBN ‎ 978-0593429709 400 pp. $19.99

*****

This next installment of the American Royals series, which imagines a United States where the founding fathers established a monarchy instead of a democracy, features Beatrice as reigning Queen, hosting a major diplomatic event and not making enough time for fiancé Teddy; Princess Samantha stepping up in a major way into her own royal role, in love with a Black Duke who would have to give up everything, and their brother Jefferson who is back with scheming Daphne. Meanwhile, he and Nina are growing to be close friends again.

Romance, drama, international politics modern day court intrigue, unlikely alliances and deep betrayals advance the plot. Least you think it’s all fluff, the series also addresses racism, misogyny, climate change, and media/fame. The writing is excellent, pacing perfect, and I devoured it in one sitting.

The cliffhanger ending promises a sequel that I personally can’t wait for; purchase where the series is popular.

I received an advance reader’s review copy of #Rivals from #NetGalley

American Royals (American Royals #1) by Katharine McGee

Standard
American Royals (American Royals #1) by Katharine McGee

Katharine McGee. American Royals (American Royals #1). Random House, 2019. ISBN 978-1984830173 448 pp. $18.99

*****

This is excellent speculative fiction about what might have happened if Washington accepted being made King of America, instead of an elected Presidency. Everyone is with the wrong person and longing for someone else in this YA novel of court, politics, matchmaking and queen-making.