Speak Easy, Speak Love by McKelle George
Published: September 19th, 2017
Genre: Historical Fiction, Young Adult, Retelling
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.
“Mr. Scott, even if a little ground ends up on your clothes, it doesn’t stop you from walking on it as if you owned it.”
I saw Much Ado About Nothing at a Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse and decided it was one of my favorite plays that he wrote. It is hilarious and filled with wit and romance. McKelle George created the perfect retelling and was just as hilarious, romantic, and done with the perfect 1920s backdrop. As many of you know Historical Fiction is one of my favorite genres along with High/Epic Fantasy. Retellings are a dime a dozen but I love that this is a fresh new story and a retelling that I have never seen done before. I would love to see more modern book versions of Shakespeare’s comedies. This story doesn’t hold back on the comedy. The writing style is extremely gorgeous and fits with the time period of the roaring twenties. The cast of characters was fantastic and just as comical as in the play. As a hopeless romantic the romance made my heart flutter. I think everyone should read this and would enjoy this wonderful story.
1) Extremely Comical
“I first met my late wife marching at the head of a women’s suffragette parade. So I must say with respect to your position, that I have a deep fondness for rioting women, and you could not have made my niece more appealing to me if she came with a cash prize.”
From the start of the book, I was smiling and laughing. It was honestly laugh out loud comedy from start to finish and I wasn’t expecting it. The characters were all witty and said so many iconic funny things. I felt like it was a movie because I have never laughed that hard at a book besides Rick Riordan books. The book had so many wild moments that kept my stomach hurting from laughter.
2) Amazing Characters
“Here’s to that noble experiment the Eighteenth Amendment,” he said, “which makes a toast so thrilling and this wonderful, mad time in history in which we live.”
Benedick was a funny, adventurous, dreamer, and a novelist. Beatrice was a wild, troublemaker, tough, hilarious, dreamer, and a future doctor. Prince was a thrilling, sharp, cunning, charming guy who takes the world on his shoulders. Hero is a beautiful, wild, rambunctious, sharp, silver-tongued girl who just wants to be loved. Maggie was a sassy, heart-wrenching singer, with a heart of gold. John was a stone cold, heartless (or so it seems) Italian mobster who is hard and bad to the bone.
“Boys,” said Prince, holding up his replenished flask, “may we live to be shot at another day. Salute.”
Chapter one started out with a mini goose chase about booze and gangsters. It was filled with a lot of good action and I never felt bored I finished it so quickly. Since they do illegal booze running and run speakeasies they are always getting into some wild stuff. And I have to mention when Beatrice shot at those guys because honestly yes girl.
4) Historical Accuracy
“…until now Prohibition had felt largely distant and irrelevant to her life. Something told her it had just gotten close enough to ask for a dance.”
One of my favorite aspects was how the writing really fit the era to a T. The vocabulary and lingo the characters use plus how they acted was very roaring twenties. Besides that the story touch on many aspects of the era. We read about the jazz music and blues (Maggie). The organized crime and Italian Mafia graced the pages (John and Prince). The rise of new feminism after women won the vote (Beatrice) and the rise of the flapper (Hero). The arrival of “literary genius” that came after World World I (Benedick). Plus the speakeasies and prohibition that runs throughout the story. At the end of the book, the author talks about things that she made up and what was real and I appreciated that because it shows the research she put into this.
“He kissed her temple. Touched the parting of her hair. Added, quietly, “I love you.” She closed her eyes and tucked his finger close, right where they belonged. “Against your will.” “With so much of my heart, none of it is left to protest.”
We all know the hopeless romantic I am so, of course, this was what made my heart truly flutter with glee. John and Maggie’s shindig was so cute because it reminded me of A Bronx Tale and how it was an Italian mob boy and a Black girl. I loved seeing his heart soften for her my favorite times were page 316 (UGHHHH) and 383-384 (HEART SWELLING). Hero and Prince were the ones I didn’t expect but kind of did. It was unreciprocated at first and it was this she needs him on her side and he loves her and then they just love each other and I scream lol. Their best moment was obviously page 390 (JUST LET ME LIE HERE A MOMENT). Then the stars of the crazy ride Beatrice and Benedick just tore me all up. This was a hate to love done perfectly. They had so many great moments like page 147-148, 153, chapter 18, page 258, 355, 371, 405-406, and 408 (SO MUCH LOVE IN ALL THIS AND KISSES AND I AM DEAD).
This was such a fantastic book and had everything I could love all wrapped into one. You must read this and I hope you enjoyed this review until next time.