Windy City Blues by Renée Rosen

Windy City Blues

Renée Rosen

In Windy City Blues, Leeba and Red find themselves in the middle of the Civil Rights Movement and discover that, in times of struggle, music can bring people together.

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In 1960s Chicago, a young woman stands in the middle of a musical and social revolution. A new historical novel from the bestselling author of White Collar Girl and What the Lady Wants.

 “The rise of the Chicago Blues scene fairly shimmers with verve and intensity, and the large, diverse cast of characters is indelibly portrayed with the perfect pitch of a true artist.”
—Melanie Benjamin, New York Times bestselling author of The Swans of Fifth Avenue  

Leeba Groski doesn’t exactly fit in, but her love of music is not lost on her childhood friend and neighbor, Leonard Chess, who offers her a job at his new record company in Chicago. What starts as answering phones and filing becomes more than Leeba ever dreamed of, as she comes into her own as a songwriter and crosses paths with legendary performers like Chuck Berry and Etta James. But it’s Red Dupree, a black blues guitarist from Louisiana, who captures her heart and changes her life.

Their relationship is unwelcome in segregated Chicago and they are shunned by Leeba’s Orthodox Jewish family. Yet in the midst of the Civil Rights Movement, Leeba and Red discover that, in times of struggle, music can bring people together.


Advance Galley Reviews

Although, I really enjoyed this book, I felt like it was almost a novelization of the movie Cadillac Records in some areas. Honestly, I would have loved this book more if it had just focused on Leeba and Red and their struggles of being a couple in segregated Chicago. A lot of the other stuff felt like filler at times. What I did love about this book though that it did suck me in. I did get emotionally attached to some of the characters. And my heart broke of Leeba and how her family treated her and Red. Her mom and her sister were the worst! Although, her dad came to terms with her relationship, I disliked him because he never stood up for her. As a parent, I couldn't imagine letting anyone treat my child meanly because of who they married, even if that person were their other parent. Her dad definitely came off as coward in my opinion. Overall, I give this book 3.5 stars and would love to read more from Renee Rosen.

3 Stars. Windy City Blue is a unique story about the history of blues music, Chicago, and civil rights. Set in the late 1940s to early 1960s Chicago and told in third person following fictional and real life characters. The story centers around the fictional Leeba Groski and Red Dupree and the real life Leonard Chess. Leeba is Polish Jewish, a song writer, and a piano player. Leeba works at Aristocrat Records and has a best friend, Aileen, who is a singer. Leeba struggles with what her traditional Jewish family expects of her and what she wants. Red is a guitar player from Louisiana with dreams of making it big in Chicago’s music scene. Red starts playing with an electric guitar and creates a band with a harmonica player, Little Walter. Later on, Red plays with Muddy Water’s band. Leeba and Red meet through a few chance encounters, flirt with each other and eventually start a serious relationship. Being a mixed race couple causes some problems for them and they get caught up in the Civil Rights Movement. Leonard Chess owns a nightclub, the Macomba with his brother, Phil. Leonard wants to get out of the night club business and becomes a part owner of Aristocrat Records, which turns into Chess Records later on. He looks for artists playing new types of music called "race music" like the blues for the record company to sell including Tom Archia, Muddy Waters, and other famous blues musicians. The story is slow at first, but has a great setting and characters. The first half of the story is a bit boring with much of the same happening. Leonard finds artists to record, Leeba and Red run into each other and flirt for a bit, Leeba works at the record company, and Red and Little Walter perform. The story does pick up in the second half. Both the fictional and real characters were excellent and well written. Each character was trying to overcome some expectations or challenges they faced. Leeba and Red’s romance was realistic and passionate. The strong friendship between Leeba and the overly dramatic, Aileen was perfect. The setting of Chicago in the 1940s-1960s was also well described. The story was more on the lewd side than I expected with a few of the songs having loads of innuendo, characters having extramarital affairs, and a character that says “motherf—er“ almost every other sentence. Through some parts were boring, I enjoyed the book and may check out others by the author. Those interested in the history behind blues music and Chess Records, the history of Chicago, and famous blues musicians would enjoy this book.

Windy City Blues by Renee Rosen is Jewish historical fiction superbly crafted. This exploration of one woman's journey is a delight to read. The characters were memorable and a fun to journey with. The writing, as ever, is fantastic.

He is an African-American guitar player from the Mississippi Delta. Looking for something more, he heads for Chicago. She is a white, Jewish, young woman who works at Chess Records in Chicago. This is a story of their love in segregated America, and a history of the greats that came and went at Chess Records during the Civil Rights era. Both of their families shun the lovebirds and they struggle to make it a go. It is an exciting time in history for some, a deadly time for others. My thanks to the author and the Penguin First to Read program for a complimentary copy.

I love historical fiction and I love music, so this book was a great read for me. I was a little "disjointed" in parts, with the multiple characters. Their stories failed to connect well at times. Even so, it was an enjoyable book.

This was a DNF for me. I was really put off immediately by the language, etc. I usually can handle a certain amount of vulgarity but right off the top was too much!

I really enjoyed "Windy City Blues" by Renee Rosen. Set in a segregated Chicago during the Civil Rights Movement, the power of this novel is the story of the jazz music scene in this city and the record company that distributed this music across the country. Leeba, an Orthodox Jewish daughter of immigrants, and Red, an African American jazz guitarist from the south, struggle to find themselves and sustain their relationship during this tumultuous time. This work of historical fiction is realistic and is one readers will find fascinating.

My second book by Renee Rosen has cemented her shelf space as a favorite author. Windy City Blues dealt with an era that I knew very little about. I new little about the music, the blues, that was at the heart of this historical fiction story, I knew little about the history including segregation and racism, and the book left me wanting to know more. I found myself checking You Tube during my reading of the book, because I wanted to hear the songs that were sited in the story. I found myself Googling and checking Wikipedia to get more information on pieces of history from the book. Who would have thought that two, Jewish, immigrant brothers from Poland would be the powerhouses behind the record label that gave so many blues musicians their start? Ms. Rosen effortlessly wove the real story of the Chess brothers into an amazing piece of historical fiction, adding in Leeba Groski neighbor of the Chess Bros., who worked for Chess Records, her romantic interest Red Dupree, an up and coming blues guitarist who in the story works with Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry, and Etta James as a contracted musician of Chess Records. As Leeba/Leah and Red's relationship grows, they marry and face discrimination as a mixed race couple. I shed tears when Leah & Red head south as Freedom Riders and they faced the angry mob along with other civil rights supporters including Martin Luther King Jr. I think this book will be in my top ten for 2017!

I love reading stories based on real live people and events. “Windy City Blues” is written from three different points of view Leeba’s, Red’s and Leonard’s with is a first for this author. This in no way takes away from the story but actually enhances it. Renee Rosen is one of the best at combining reality and fiction. She pored her heart and soul into “Windy City Blues” and you can tell. Bravo Renee! I experienced first hand the segregation of bathrooms, restaurants, buses, etc., and Renee’s attention to detail as we traveled the buses and walked the marches of the Civil Rights movement brought me back to those times when I lived in Mississippi. Ms. Rosen explores interracial marriage and its hardships of being excepted not only by your own family but also both blacks and whites with such emotion that I felt everything Leeba and Red Dupree felt. Leeba loved music and as we read “Windy City Blues” we join her on her quest of being a song writer. Ms. Rosen takes us through the ups and downs of the music business as young blues singers migrate from the South, North to Chicago. At Chess records we meet Leonard the founder and such greats as Chuck Berry, Etta James, Muddy Waters, and more. If you are a music lover this is one book you don’t want to miss, as the historical research that Renee Rosen did to write this story is outstanding. She went right to the source talking to Chess family members, DJs from the era, and etc. Reading this compelling story we learn about the struggles of the musicians as they dealt with racism against not only themselves but also their music. As I was reading this story I thought to myself if Renee was one of these characters who would she be and obviously it would be Leeba. The depth this character had as she grew from a young girl into a woman amazed me with her love and kindness, even as she herself battled racism. She so easily could have become bitter and hard, instead she showed compassion towards others. Again, Bravo Renee your best one yet!

This book tells the story of Leeba, who doesn't quite fit in with her Jewish family. She is a working woman while her parents want her to settle down and get married. Leeba gets involved in the rising Chicago blues scene by working for the Chess Brothers. She begins writing down the songs in her head. She meets and falls in love with an African-American blues guitarist, Red Dupree. They get married despite the fact that Leeba's parents want nothing to do with the marriage. Red and Leeba try to make sense of the world in the late 1950's and get involved with the Civil Rights Movement. Renee Rosen does quite a lot of research for her books so that they come across authentic. I enjoyed reading about the early Blues scene in Chicago and how Leeba navigated the world. I loved learning new things about the music industry.

Windy City Blues by Renée Rosen takes us to the birth of the Chicago Blues to during the 1940s through the 1960s . This story follows the history of Chess Records. The premise of the book and the historical background setup for a fascinating story. The book, however, scatters its focus with too many characters and too much name dropping. I keep reading it as an interesting historical narration, but the main characters get a little lost. Read my complete review at Reviewed for the Penguin First to Read program.

4.5 stars Windy City Blues is a fantastic book that addresses both the influence of blues on today’s music and the Civil Rights Movement. The story focuses on Leeba Groski and her determination to follow her own path and pursue her personal dreams. Through Leeba, Renee Rosen manages to depict how Southern blues arrives in Chicago and forever changes the music industry and also helps lead to eventual desegregation. As a huge music lover myself, I was totally intrigued with the music aspects of this book. I didn’t know that records could be recorded cheaply in the back of music stores in the 1950’s, the process by which songs were chosen to play on the radio, and the actual influence this type of music has on what we listen to even today. Rosen includes so many fascinating details about music and its development; I found it all so fascinating. The cover is also spectacular and just perfect for the book. I highly recommend this wonderful novel. Thanks to First to Read for the chance to read it in exchange for an honest review.

Rosen is wonderful at bringing her characters to life and making you really feel for them. I am a historical fiction fan but this period and subject were completely new to me and Rosen pulled me in and made me happy to come along for the ride. I really felt for both Leeba and Red and their stories drew me in the most. I found Leonard tiresome at points, coming off as a bit of a caricature but that is how some people are. I was also a little confused by the role money played in the book, with it sometimes being plentiful and the next minute scarce but I think that was intentional. Windy City Blues takes place in a time of upheavel and that really shows in this novel and adds to the flow of the story.

Windy City Blues fictionalizes the start of Chess Records in the midst of the blues/rock n' roll music transition with the Civil Rights Movement as a backdrop. There are a handful of characters to follow, but they are all linked in some way that keeps it from getting too complicated. The book is told from 3 main characters; Leeba, Red, and Leonard. Leonard Chess and his brother are Jewish club owners at the beginning of the book, but we follow them as they form Chess Records, a label that caters to "race" music. Leeba Groski is a Polish immigrant who was a childhood friend of the Chess brothers and Red is a black aspiring musician looking to make it big in the Chicago music scene. We follow these characters as they navigate not only their personal struggles, but the struggles of those closest to them and all of the struggles that led up to the Civil Rights Movement. Overall, I liked the story. You can tell there was a lot of research that went into the book and I liked that it was written in partial fact. I've heard of many of the musicians referenced in the book and it was interesting to see how life may have looked in the time when they gained popularity. The book was written simply and I found it to be an enjoyable quick read.

Author Renee Rosen covers a lot of ground in her novel, Windy City Blues. Relying on main characters Leeba Groski, Red Dupree and Leonard and Phil Chess, she sets the stage for an in-depth look into the 1950’s recording industry and the movement from race music to R&B and rock and roll. Leeba, a Jewish woman, and Red, a black blues guitarist, fall in love. Their relationship and subsequent marriage provides a compassionate and very realistic look into interracial dating and marriage, racial tensions and violence in Chicago and the South, and the burgeoning Civil Rights Movement. While Leeba and Red and other characters might be fictional, some players who appear in the book are very real. Leonard and Phil did found Chess Records and help popularize “race music,” recording such artists as Etta James, Muddy Waters, Chuck Barry, and Howlin’ Wolf, who appear in the novel. It was one of the pre-eminent blues labels in the 50s and 60s. Windy City Blues is a very informative novel and one that music lovers, in particular, won’t want to miss. At times I thought the story could have benefited from a little editing, cutting the word count a bit, but the length of the book in no way detracts from what Ms. Rosen ultimately achieves in her story.

I thought that this book was really interesting and made me want to look into the books that inspired the story and read the real stories about the Chess brothers and their role in music.

An absolutely amazing book for the music lovers like me. Its the historical fiction book about two Polish brothers who migrated to US became famous musicians and opened doors for other immigrants. Absolutely loved it...

As a music fan, I loved this fictionalized account the true story of two brothers who immigrated from Poland, bought a recording studio, and became some of the first people to help African American musicians get their music played on the radio. Windy City Blues combines the actual events of the evolution of blues music in Chicago with fictional characters who interact with the artists and producers who lived this experience. The story is expertly crafted, focusing on the music of the time and the characters' connections to the Civil Rights Movement. Even the fictional characters feel real as their struggles are familiar to anyone who has ever felt oppressed or hit rock bottom in their personal life or career. If you're a music lover or just enjoy books with complex, interesting characters, check out Windy City Blues.

I absolutely fell in love with Renee Rosen's writing and Windy City Blues. I had never read any of her previous books, but historical fiction is my favorite, and she's beyond hooked me to read her other books plus this one - again! In Windy City Blues, Renee Rosen explores the agitation of Civil Rights movement beginnings and the intense blues and rock‘n'roll scenes but drops in intriguing and compelling characters at the core. The author, herself, has stated the type of research that she did (e.g., traveling the Blues Highway and interviewing deejays and members of the Chess family) and how she poured herself into writing this book, and it's truly impressive. What's more it shows and shines through all aspects of the novel. She is able to weave a gripping story based on the beginning of blues, rock n roll and the Civil Rights movement and from the varied and deep characters she brings to life. The story is a fascinating one that explores conflict, struggle, love and courage -- all things that still ring true in today's current events. I highly recommend this book!

What a fantastic story! It's not just the fact that it's (loosely) about one of the best record labels to ever exist - it's about how effortlessly Rosen builds a story of love and struggle and weaves it into a history of American music. I fell in love with all the characters after just a few pages and I constantly found it almost impossible to walk away from the story. There's nothing fantastic or adventurous in it, but following along with the expertly crafted characters as they struggle with issues of race, class and prejudice made this a story that I couldn't put down.

When Penguin's First-to-Read program offered an advance copy of this book, I requested it because the subject matter of the record label interested me. One of my children currently works in marketing for a record label and I thought this book would give me some historical information about the music industry. It certainly delivered that and also gave insight into the beginning of the Civil Rights movement. Leeba was a central character and I would like to have seen more emphasis given to her role as a songwriter, but perhaps she took a back seat because this book was more about the Chess brothers and because she was a working woman in the 50s. The book is a bit longer than it needed to be to tell the story, but it held my interest to the end.

I loved the intertwining of real historical figures with invented characters. It was easy to picture the scenes in my head and I found myself wanting more by the end of the book. The real life struggles due to race and class and wanting a better life for oneself ring true. The character development enhances the reading experience and the reader is caught up in getting to know the characters just a bit more with each interaction, the same as it would happen if one were interacting with people in real life.

The perfect read to start the new year! Renee Rosen has done it again. She has masterfully woven together her detailed research with her unbelievably amazing storytelling skills to give us a novel that won't be forgotten. Windy City Blues gives us a snapshot of life in Chicago at the height of the Blues Era as we learn more about the inner workings of music recording and distribution during the 1940's-1960's with the story of Chess Records. The subject of race relations, and the differences between the north and the south is prevalent throughout the book, and gave me such a sense of what life was like during this turbulent time. Rosen's writing is engrossing and continues to develop with each novel, and her character development is outstanding. I am sad to put these characters away! This may well be my favorite Rosen book yet!

An engaging read! Interesting historical context. Setting richly drawn. It made me build a playlist! Loved this book!

I really enjoyed this book because it was so thought provoking. In today's culture, many people try to use the race card to get attention, express displeasure, or to put down others. However, by looking into the past when strong racism and segregation existed, it shows a clearer picture of societal issues. We have come a long way in the last fifty years but people are going to hate, no matter the time period. I was proud of the main female character and her choices. That is one of the main reasons that I loved this book. She did no conform to society's views, but found the similarities in people's struggles. She acted with love and friendship. So many characters had a variety of struggles that they faced. Each was able to deal with them in many ways. I liked the passage of time in this novel as we could continually follow the characters through their ordeals and see how they changed and grew. I also loved being able to learn about music and how it progresses through time. I have family and friends who took college classes about music and it makes me wish I was more knowledgeable about the subject. It was nice for a time to read through this novel and feel like I understood a bit about blues music and how it made its mark in music history.

Thanks to First To Read for the ARC and the opportunity to enjoy this book in exchange for an honest review/feedback. "Windy City Blues" caught my eye for both its music history perspective as well as that of the civil rights movement. As an avid music lover, the inclusion of real characters and authentic music history, made it a delightful read as the story unfolded and more and more of the musicians we know and love entered into the story, with their own life and career ups and downs included. From the Chess Brothers to Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Chuck Berry and Etta James. I felt as though I learned a little about their origins and how their stories wove together as the blues music found its way into Chicago and spread and gained momentum in the 50's and 60's. The story line about Leeba and Red and the development of their inter-racial/faith relationship was another layer/dimension of the book that added to the overall excellence of the "Windy City Blues." Following their life from the beginning of their story - where even speaking to each other put Red in potential danger, to their meeting in secret and fearing what would happen if they were discovered to be in love through their standing tall and no longer hiding their romance was an emotional journey and I found myself rooting for them, cheering and sometimes shedding a tear along with them. The struggles they faced are all too familiar and sadly continue to varying degrees in this very day and age. I truly enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend it to those who are into music (especially the blues) and music history as well as those who enjoy learning about/reading about the civil rights movement. The two backdrops are interwoven together and turn the story into a sort of blues song of its own.

This book is chock full of really great characters, both real (The Chess Brothers, Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry, etc.) and imagined (Leeba and Red Dupree, among others). Ostensibly telling the story of the Chicago Blues Scene of the 1940's and 1950's, it weaves a story of music, of race, of family in America during a turbulent and revolutionary time. The story centers around Leeba Groski, a young Jewish girl in Chicago whose family emigrated from Poland, Red Dupree, a young Blues musician who comes to Chicago from the Deep South to find success and fame, and Leonard Chess, one of two founders of Chess records, and childhood friend of Leeba. This book mingles and interweaves their stories in a really captivating tale, with characters it is easy to care about and whose ups and downs carry the story. Red Dupree was a character that could have easily become a stereotype and without going into spoilers, I will say that the way the author developed and evolved this character brought me a lot of joy. His character could have gone one way, but he went another, and I really like the way he went. For me, the mark of effective historical fiction is how much it makes me want to delve further into the people and time periods and movements covered. There's a handy little bibliography in the back of this book, and I've already copied it down and am looking up more on this wonderful story. This book was a really pleasant surprise.

This was a fun and fascinating read. I never knew about the Chess brothers before reading this title, and learning the history of the evolution of music in the 1950s and 60s was very interesting. Additionally, focus on the Civil Rights struggle was very informative. This was a fun and easy read while also educational and rich in historical facts. I would recommend this to any historical fiction fan.

This was a fascinating piece of historical fiction. I found the historical story fascinating and Rosen has given me a new appreciation of the connections between the evolution of Blues, R&B, & Rock & Roll and the Civil Rights struggle. In this time of racial tension, I found the lessons of this history very moving. Additionally, the fictional lines of the story blended very well into the history & Leeba & Red's story brought tears and smiles to my heart. If you like music & historical fiction, this will be a great read for you!

Thank you to the publisher for allowing me to read an advanced reader's copy of this book. I've read other books from this author (Renee Rosen), and was truly looking forward to her latest. "Windy City Blues" is historical fiction, telling the story of the Chess record label, bringing in the new sound of blues to the city of Chicago in the 60's. The author works diligently to work on the various characters' development throughout the story, rich in detail of the time period. There are almost too many characters to focus on. Overall, I found the characters to be dry and the story moved along at a rather slow pace. My rating is 3 out of 5 stars.

I thoroughly enjoyed Windy City Blues. It relates aspects of the record industry with civil rights, race relations and the characters choices in life. It brings the good and bad aspects of life together. Although the author used creative license in many aspects of the story I felt it didn't affect the revelance story. I felt I gained a better understanding of how some events affected others. And could relate to several of the characters.

Loved this book!!!!! While it was definitely a novel that was loaded with history, the characters and music background make it current and relative to today.

A fictional story set against the rich historical backdrop of 60’s era Chicago, where music and race relations are volatile and primed for change. For Leeba, a white Jewish woman working at Chess Records, the music was the great equalizer that allowed her to find strength, especially after she fell in love with Red, a negro musician. As their future becomes irrevocably entwined in the Chicago Blues world, it is the music and those who love it that help them overcome the challenges of the time. This is a nice story, packed with enough historical detail about the Chicago music scene of the blues era to keep any music history enthusiast happy. The love story is very human and the race and religious relations are given a realistic and not overly melodramatic treatment. The characters are complex and the Chicago mood is carried throughout. I enjoyed it.

The Rolling Stones have recently returned to their blues roots and that means the legend of Chess Records gets a fresh airing. Timely indeed for author Renee Rosen, whose latest novel revolves around the rise of the storied business. WINDY CITY BLUES wraps fiction with fact. A lot of fact. Dry as toast fact. It's a habit of the author, to use every scrap of research, to the point that you just want to tell her you don't need detailed directions that include every street the character must cross to get from her home to the Chess Records headquarters. The novel is set against a backdrop of Jim Crow prejudice in Chicago after the Second World War, featuring fictional characters Leeba (white, Jewish) and Red (black, Christian). She's working with old pals Leonard and Phil Chess, helping build up their record business behind the scenes, and falls in love with an up and coming bluesman from the Deep South. But there is so much more going on, what with the opening salvo of the civil rights movement sprouting and the Chess brothers producing what were called 'race' records to fill a niche in the black entertainment sector, making money and discovering talent and shifting as the industry turned to rhythm and blues. It is a complex tale with many threads, to say nothing of the name dropping that fits in with the assortment of dry facts mentioned above. It often feels quite contrived, requiring a reader to do some serious suspension of disbelief. The characters are relatively one-dimensional, the story-telling a bit wooden. The spark of life is dim in this novel, as if Ms. Rosen is relating a story like a news reporter rather than a novelist. Such is her style, however, and it may work for some readers. Loose ends are tied up at the end in a way that falls flat because it feels too artificial, the author driving the narrative rather than the characters. The ending is a happy one for most of the participants, Leeba rubs elbows with both the Rolling Stones and Dr. Martin Luther King, she saves an orphan black child, and her husband finds his purpose at radio station WVON. Which was founded by the Chess Brothers when they began to burn out from the stress of running Chess Records. Well-researched, with a tendency to plod along as the timeline marches on, WINDY CITY BLUES is a bit of a slog, but with some interesting elements for those interested in Chicago history. I often struggled to keep my eyes open while reading, but I wasn't sorry that I stuck with the book and finished it to the end.

Windy City Blue is the story of Chess Records, told by the major players of the era--the Chess brothers, their childhood friend Leeba and the musicians that made two Polish immigrants in Chicago a success at spotting early rhythm and blues icons. If you like anything about music, R&B, and history, this is the book for you. From the early 40s to the end of the 60s, this book looks at these fast-changing, often tumultuous times from the perspective of people who could understand oppression but still didn't feel it as their friends had. What made this book most interesting is that it takes on historical moments like segregation and puts it in the context of the music of the time, which is a language that the whole world can understand. And with multiple narrators, the reader gets every perspective.

Windy City Blues by Renee Rosen Windy City Blues is a book that takes place in Chicago starting in 1933 and going on through 1969. While written in a militaristic style, with just enough descriptions to give the reader enough information to imagine the scene in their own way, it is an attention grabbing story. It is a story about members of two different white Polish immigrant families and how their lives interconnect. Brothers Leonard and Phil Chess and neighbor Leba Groski. It is a fictional account based on a true story with some of the facts changed to make a better story. It tells of the early start of the blues in Chicago and how it went on to be a global music It is mostly told from Leeba's point of view, but it also allows Lenny (Leonard) and Red Dupree (Leeba's negro husband) to give their point of view. It is a story that tells about the race music industry in Chicago in the 1940's and how it changed throughout the years becoming rock and roll by the 1960's. It tells about how Lenny, trying to get out of the night club business breaks into the music business, first becoming a distributor at a small recording label and them going on to own his own label with his brother Phil and how Leba worked with him from the beginning while Red was trying to get a recording break. The book talks about the early blues performers and their songs such as Muddy Waters, Jimmy Rogers and Chuck Berry, as well as touching on the problems Red and Leeba have being an interracial couple in the 40's & 50's and the equality movement in the 60's It was a story that I found both interesting and enjoyable, and will probably read again. I received this from Penquin's First to Read Program in exchange for an honest review.

Ms. Rosen has done it again! I really enjoyed her previous work White Collar Girl, about a young woman in the newspaper business. With Windy City Blues, the reader gets to experience the music business in Chicago from right after WWII up through the civil rights movement. I loved the main protagonist Leeba, who works for one of the record labels, and is also a songwriter trying hard to make it after work hours. The other story with Leeba is that she is also in love with a black man. This sets up a great side plot regarding race tolerance, particularly with her family and the sentiments of the time. The struggle for all the blues musicians of this time was made so very real, and I thought the integration of the fictional characters and real history making singers (such as Chuck Berry and Elvis) was seamlessly written. The surrounding characters were all well drawn, and I felt the emotions springing off the page. I learned a lot about this time during music history, but because it's a work of fiction, it was entertaining as well as factual. They always say the music biz is a tough one, but this book drives home that point so very well. Great characters, a well formed plot, good pacing, and good writing make this a must read, particularly if you are interested in the music business during this time period. I can't wait to see what Rosen comes up with next!

WIndy City Blues tells the fictional story of a record label bringing in the new sound of blues to the city of Chicago. The tale is told from Leeba and Red, an interracial couple who work for the label and Leonard, one of the owners. Each have there own challenges. Leonard wants more than anything to succeed and prove his worthiness to a past love forsaking his family in the process. Red and Leeba must deal with all the prejudices of being an interracial couple in the 60's. The book managed to blend the truth of the civil rights movement and Chess records with the fictional characters created by Ms. Rosen. An interesting read where fact and fiction combine to make for a terrific read.

This was a beautifully written book! I really enjoyed the accuracy of the time period and shows you the real feelings during the time period. The characters really gripped me and the situations they lived through. Definitely recommend this book!

This book takes place during the civil rights movement in the 60s. We meet Leeba, a Jewish woman, and Red, a black man. They fall in love in a turbulent time when their love is forbidden. This was an amazing book. It was touching and so real. Definitely a keeper!

Beautifully written book about civil rights issues and the music industry in the 60's.

This is a great novel! The author definitely did her research on civil rights issues- I really like how the lives of the main characters paralleled the civil rights movement going on at the same time. It was also compelling how Leeba, a Jewish woman, fell in love with Red, an African American man, at a time when such things were not just frowned upon but actually put into danger by those who did not believe in mixed relationships. I love the whole setting of the novel, the story of the record company, the fight for equality, etc. I will definitely recommend this novel to others!

Thanks to Penguin's First-to- Read program for this ARC. A rockin roller, cool, down to earth awesome book! This is a perfect book club/ discussion novel. Renée Rosen's novels grab your heart and soul, and shine a light on historical truths that need more attention here and now.

Overall, I liked the book a lot. I enjoyed that the author blended true events with fictional characters. I feel like the characters were very relatable, and I liked how they continually changed and evolved.

In Windy City Blues, Renee Rosen does a wonderful job of building a story around a flourishing music scene in the 1950s and 60s with the Chess Brothers, Muddy Waters, and Chuck Berry with the Civil Rights Movement. Rosen artistically weaves fact and fiction into a very compelling story of a biracial couple who struggle to make it on the music scene, while demanding respect from their families, and society. I found that the book was often calling to me from corners of the room, and read it enthusiatically. I enjoyed reading about this incredibly important period in history very much.

Thanks to Penguin's First-to- Read program for this ARC. A rockin roller, cool, down to earth awesome book! This is a perfect book club/ discussion novel. Renée Rosen's novels grab your heart and soul, and shine a light on historical truths that need more attention here and now.

Windy City Blues is a fictionalized story about Chess Records, a record label that brought race music to the masses. It was music that evolved into the Blues, R and B and eventually rock and roll. This is the music that paralleled the civil rights movement as black people found their voice. There are familiar faces in this book that are brought to life with all their flaws along with their great music, Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley to name a few. Interspersed with these real people is the relationship between Leeba, a white Jewish woman who becomes involved with and eventually marries Red Dupree, a black guitar player trying to find his own place in the crazy world of Chicago music. Their struggles to live their lives amid the prejudices of family and society feel very real and I truly felt their pain at their struggles and their joys at their accomplishments. I found the parallels between the Jewish struggle and the black struggle very interesting and never realized how they had an uneasy corelationship of survival during those years. Great book

I really enjoyed this book and look forward to more from this author.

I found this book did great job of tying in the history of the time period with the history of the blues. The characters were well written and I loved the tie in with some of the biggest hits of the era. I will be definitely interested in reading further books by this author.


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