By Nicola Cassidy
Published by Poolbeg Press, 2020
What’s it about?
Adele is a tale of talent, glamour and fame at the height of the roaring 20s.
1973: Californian journalist Ellie Morgan sets out on a mission to research the life of Adele Astaire, famed 1920s dancer and comedienne, older sister to Fred Astaire. She uncovers a wealth of material from the people who knew her.
1905: Eight-year-old Adele Austerlitz moves from her humble home in Omaha, Nebraska, with her five-year-old brother Fred, to New York to begin training at a professional stage academy. They undertake a gruelling schedule of rehearsals and touring, setting the foundations of what will be the most famous and sought-after dance partnership on 1920s Broadway.
1928: Patricia Ryan, a no-nonsense Irish girl takes a job as a housemaid at Lismore Castle in County Waterford, Ireland.
All of their lives will intersect, weaving the tale of one of the most famous women of her time – charismatic entertainer, celebrity, fashion icon, muse to artists and writers, and favourite of royalty.
What I think:
I love historical bio-fiction, especially women with interesting lives and Adele by Nicola Cassidy has been on my wishlist list since I first heard about it.
Adele’s story is extraordinary. From child actor to Broadway superstar to English Lady living in a castle. Sister to legendary Fred Astaire, she was a huge star in her own right before retiring in the 1930s.
The story is told from different perspectives. Journalist, Ellie is researching a biography of Adele and begins by revisiting her childhood hometown. Locals are welcoming and willing to share stories of the Astaires.
Later chapters are told by Patricia Ryan, a young Irish woman who becomes a housemaid at Lismore Castle, an Irish estate by the wealthy Cavendish family.
Other chapters are told through Adele’s own voices as she grows from precocious child to superstar and through celebrations and heartaches.
From the beginning it is clear that while Adele has talent and charisma, little brother Freddie has something extra special. He practices until perfect and never tires of dances while Adele gets restless and bored. She loves the limelight and thrives from the reaction of the audience.
The book vividly recreates the turn of the century vaudeville circuit and the Astaires journey to fame on Broadway.
I loved the characters of mother, Ann. She is completely dedicated to giving her talented children every opportunity for success, leaving her husband and friends to take them to New York for dance lessons and stage opportunities.
Adele herself is charismatic and feisty. She is hardworking and determined to be successful. Her charm and sense of humour leave lasting impressions on everyone she meets.
Her relationship with husband, Charlie Cavendish is such a s tragic love story as the couple struggle to deal with the death of their children and Charlie’s increasing alcoholism.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The different perspectives join together well to tell the story. Its definitely made me want to find out more about Adele and Fred Astaire and their extraordinary lives. And the cover is absolutely gorgeous.
Thank you Nicola Cassidy and Book Sirens for gifting me a copy of this book in return for an honest review.