(Website, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)Published by HarperCollins on September 19th 2017
Genres: 20th Century, Historical, Literary, Romance, Romantic Comedy, United States, Young Adult Fiction
Six teenagers’ lives intertwine during one thrilling summer full of romantic misunderstandings and dangerous deals in this sparkling retelling of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.
After she gets kicked out of boarding school, seventeen-year-old Beatrice goes to her uncle’s estate on Long Island. But Hey Nonny Nonny is more than just a rundown old mansion. Beatrice’s cousin, Hero, runs a struggling speakeasy out of the basement—one that might not survive the summer. Along with Prince, a poor young man determined to prove his worth; his brother John, a dark and dangerous agent of the local mob; Benedick, a handsome trust-fund kid trying to become a writer; and Maggie, a beautiful and talented singer; Beatrice and Hero throw all their efforts into planning a massive party to save the speakeasy. Despite all their worries, the summer is beautiful, love is in the air, and Beatrice and Benedick are caught up in a romantic battle of wits that their friends might be quietly orchestrating in the background.
Hilariously clever and utterly charming, McKelle George’s debut novel is full of intrigue and 1920s charm. For fans of Jenny Han, Stephanie Perkins, and Anna Godbersen.
I first fell in love with the cover of this book and then I fell in love with the words that make up this amazingly told retelling of Much Ado About Nothing. Speak Easy, Speak Love is set during the 1920’s in New York… a time of prohibition and secret clubs called Speakeasy’s, mobsters and bootlegging, and all make for an entertaining and captivating read that I couldn’t put down.
The story itself revolves around six teens whose lives tangle one fateful summer. Told from three points of views (Beatrice, Benedick, and Maggie) I found myself so invested in their fates and the amazing, layered, stories that made up each of their arrivals and time at Hey Nonny Nonny that even when I turned the last page, I wanted more.
George’s writing was just lovely… I loved how she captured the feel of the time period and I couldn’t get enough of delving into the 1920’s. She took me back to the jazz age with her gorgeous writing and I found myself slowing down just to immerse myself in her words and sentences… going back to read them again and again and highlighting so much that just struck me.
“Maggie got a bit closer until she was able to just see into the room. Prince stood at his window in slacks and an undershirt, the smoke of the cigarette between his fingers drifting our through the open crack.”
I cheered for each character in this book… from Prince, to Maggie, to John, to Hero… I loved them all, but I was especially enamored with Benedick and Beatrice. The banter was so fun and witty and seeing these two people from two different worlds find a common thread among the people they cared for was lovely.
“Miss Clark,” he said, “have we just made the hard turn from enemies into friends?”
“I’d like that,” she said. “If you don’t mind being wrong and inferior most of the time because that’s not something I can help.”
I just couldn’t get enough of Beatrice and her solid acceptance of who she is… no trying to change just to gain the acceptance of those around her. When she & Benedick butted heads I loved the quick witted banter… when they supported each other, I loved the quiet way they connected. The end of the story was absolute perfection for me.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention John and Maggie. I loved them and I cheered for them and the situation they are in. Their relationship was heartbreaking at times, but ultimately uplifting and so beautiful.
I also have to mention the research that George did on this book – It’s apparent in every description, and detail and once you read the Author’s Note at the end of the book I think you’ll be blown away to see how she tailored this story. I definitely was and I am so excited to put a copy on my bookshelf. I’m also very excited to see what she writes next.
If you’re looking for something that perfectly captures the spirit of Much Ado About Nothing, with amazing crafted characters, and a unique setting and plot then I highly recommend Speak Easy, Speak Love.