Boomtown Chicago, 1920s—a world of gangsters, musicians, and clubs. Young Benny Lehrman, born into a Jewish hat-making family, is expected to take over his father’s business, but his true passion is piano—especially jazz. After dark, he sneaks down to the South Side to hear the bands play.
One night he is asked to sit in with a group. His playing is first-rate. The trumpeter, a black man named Napoleon, becomes Benny’s friend and musical collaborator. They are asked to play at a saloon Napoleon has christened The Jazz Palace. But Napoleon’s main gig is at a mob establishment, which doesn’t take kindly to their musicians freelancing . As Benny and Napoleon navigate the highs and the lows of the Jazz Age, a bond is forged between them that is as memorable as it is lasting. Morris brilliantly captures the dynamic atmosphere and dazzling music of an exceptional era.
About the Author
Mary Morris is the author of numerous works of fiction and nonfiction, including the novels A Mother’s Love and House Arrest, as well as the travel memoir classic Nothing to Declare: Memoirs of a Woman Traveling Alone. The recipient of the Rome Prize in literature and a grant from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, she was raised in Chicago and now lives with her family in Brooklyn, New York.
“Riveting. . . . As her tale unfolds, we know that we are in the hands of a master.” —Christina Baker Kline, author of The Orphan Train
“The Jazz Palaceunderstands what great things come from staying light on your feet. . . . The historical material itself seems to dance.” —The Washington Post
“There is a reason I have always called Mary Morris my writing mentor: she taught me everything I know; and here is the living proof.” —Jodi Picoult,New York Times bestselling author of The Storyteller
“Vibrant. . . . With brio, Morris creates music on the page.” —The New York Times Book Review
“A bittersweet, deeply lyrical but eyes-wide-open look at Chicago before and during Prohibition.” —Chicago Tribune
“In this incandescent tour-de-force, Mary Morris takes us on a riveting journey that soars and tugs on our heartstrings just as if it were music itself.” —Dani Shapiro, author of Family History and Still Writing
“The Jazz Palace is a sweeping tribute, a jazz ode, by a wonderful writer to her native city.” —Valerie Martin, author of Property and The Ghost of the Mary Celeste
“Haunting and dreamlike, there is no other word for this novel but masterpiece.” —Caroline Leavitt, author of Is This Tomorrow and Pictures of You
“Packed with so much love, heartbreak, endurance. . . . In The Jazz Palace, Mary Morris has written an exquisite love letter to her home town, Chicago. And yet the book transcends time and place.” —Peter Orner, author of Love and Shame and Love
“A graceful and involving affirmation of the transcendent power of art.” —Booklist (starred review)
“As fluid and nuanced as the music it celebrates, Morris’s narrative brings physical details, the power of music, and the sweeping history of Chicago . . . to memorable life.” —Publishers Weekly