THE WICKED CITY by Beatriz Williams
There is a fast rising star in the literary world and her name is Beatriz Williams. I discovered her through her book A CERTAIN AGE, and have been a fan ever since. Her latest novel is THE WICKED CITY and it cements her place as an author to watch. Recommend her to your friends and they will thank you, just as you are going to be thanking me.
THE WICKED CITY is actually two stories in one. One takes place in New York City in 1998 and tells the story of Ella. The other takes place in the same city but the year is 1924. This time our heroine is a woman named Gin. Now these two stories basically take place independently of each other and each could have been a separate book. Williams chose to alternate between the two worlds and give us the best of each.
Ella’s story primarily concerns her life as a woman separated from her cheating husband who moves into a new apartment. There she meets Hector, a co-tenant who proves to be intriguing and romantic. Though she is not yet divorced she can not stifle her feelings for him.
In the other story we meet Gin, a young woman who is fierce about living life. She comes from humble beginnings but she has found a bit of fame and fortune in New York and has set down roots. She has a lover named Billy and he is from a rich family. Billy-Boy, as she calls him, wants to marry her and take her away from the apartment she inhabits and the wild world she craves. Gin is agreeable to this idea until she meets Anson, a man who lives by the rules.
Both of these stories are well written and enjoyable, but the 1998 adventure pales in comparison to the 1924 one. Each time we find ourselves absorbed in Gin’s story, Williams yanks us back to the future to tell us more about Ella. This is when the book screeches to a halt. Ella’s story is like a musical interlude in a smash hit play. You just want to get on with it.
The amazing aspect of Williams’ talent is she writes like she is composing music. Her words are like notes creating a musical score. In some parts the arrangement is frenetic and biting, while at other times it is languid and sweet. Gin’s story comes out with a pounding beat while Ella’s has more of a cautious tempo. But there is always movement, and the pacing is what creates a uniqueness in the storytelling.
There are plans to continue Ella and Gin’s stories. I would prefer them in separate books but any method Williams uses is just fine with me. I just want more, more, more of her writing. It is wickedly intoxicating.
THE WICKED CITY is published by Morrow. It contains 384 pages and sells for $26.99.
Jackie K Cooper