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Shadows of the White City, #2 The Windy City Saga by Jocelyn Green

About the Book

Title: Shadows of the White City

Series: #2, The Windy City Saga

Author: Jocelyn Green

Publisher: Bethany House

The one thing Sylvie Townsend wants most is what she feared she was destined never to have–a family of her own. But taking in Polish immigrant Rose Dabrowski to raise and love quells those fears–until seventeen-year-old Rose goes missing at the World’s Fair, and Sylvie’s world unravels.

Brushed off by the authorities, Sylvie turns to her boarder, Kristof Bartok, for help. He is Rose’s violin instructor and the concertmaster for the Columbian Exposition Orchestra, and his language skills are vital to helping Sylvie navigate the immigrant communities where their search leads.

From the glittering architecture of the fair to the dark houses of Chicago’s poorest neighborhoods, they’re taken on a search that points to Rose’s long-lost family. Is Sylvie willing to let the girl go? And as Kristof and Sylvie grow closer, can she reconcile her craving for control with her yearning to belong? 

My Impressions

I’ve never been to a World’s Fair, but after reading Jocelyn Green’s Shadows of the White City, I felt like I had. Ms. Green vividly describes the setting so well. I can almost see the massive buildings, feel the pressing of the huge crowds, hear the violin and orchestra music and smell the food aromas of the many countries represented on the Midway. Green tells us the Museum of Science and Industry is one of the original 1893 World’s Fair buildings, so I can only imagine what the whole fair settlement must have been like, teeming with crowds.
Into this surreal setting Green inserts Sylvie Townsend, single, middle-aged Mimi to 17-year-old Rose. While Rose is longing to spread her wings and is searching for her biological family, Sylvie is holding on to her daughter tightly enough to suffocate her. As Sylvie struggles to sort out her relationship with Rose, she leans heavily on her neighbor, concertmaster Kristof. Kristof, in turn, struggles with his talented but slothful brother. We also see Meg, Sylvie’s sister, who is more prominent in the first book.
Sylvie has a lot of re-evaluating of her life attitudes to do. Will she emerge bitter at God, Jozefa, and Rose, or will she be better? Kristof is a bit of a stuffed shirt, albeit with a tender heart. He makes a journey of self-discovery as he helps Sylvie and tries to deal with Gregor. He is a romantic, fluid character to cheer on he begins to view life through different eyes.


Green’s poetic description of the orchestra music is entrancing. She obviously understands music well. Her research is impeccable, shown in her incredibly detailed descriptions.
Twists are subtle. In several places, I felt like I knew what would happen, but a bit of a change causes the story to flow differently than expected.
This book can stand on its own, but you will get so much more out of it if you read book one first.

Notable Quotables:

“It wasn’t Father’s timepiece I wanted. It was his time.”

“…you can stop striving to earn a place you’ve already been given. You’re already a beloved child of God. You can’t perform your way into or out of His family.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and publisher. All opinions are my own, unsolicited.

My Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Magnificent!

About the Author

Jocelyn Green is a former journalist who puts her investigative skills to work in writing both nonfiction and historical fiction to inspire faith and courage.

The honors her books have received include the Christy Award in historical fiction, and gold medals from the Military Writers Society of America and the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association.

Complex and nuanced characters, rich historical detail and twisting plots make her novels immersive experiences. Her fiction has been praised by Historical Novel Society, Romantic Times, Library Journal, historians specializing in her novels’ time periods, as well as popular and acclaimed authors Laura Frantz, Lori Benton, Jody Hedlund, Sarah Sundin, Joanne Bischof, Julie Lessman, and more.

Jocelyn loves Broadway musicals, the color red, strawberry-rhubarb pie, Mexican food, and well-done documentaries. She lives in Iowa with her husband, two children, and two cats she should have named Catticus Finch and Purrman Meowville.

Visit her at jocelyngreen.com.

More from Jocelyn

(Provided courtesy of Jocelyn’s blog and Bethany House)

  1. Shadows of the White City takes place in Chicago during the World’s Fair of 1893. What is so special about this setting?
    The World’s Fair itself was spectacular. With my heroine, Sylvie Townsend, acting as a part-time tour guide, readers get an inside look into many aspects of the Fair. Part of what made it such an amazing place was that, in addition to six hundred acres of the world’s most
    impressive accomplishments and inventions, people from all over the world connected in one place. The Midway, especially, played host to cultures from across the globe, opening people’s eyes to other perspectives they’d never considered before. Now add to all of this the
    fact that, outside the dazzling fairgrounds, Chicago and the entire nation were in the midst of a financial depression. The juxtaposition of splendor and hardship is always a poignant one.
    1. What kind of research went into this book?
      So much. There is a ton of information available on the World’s Fair. Aside from reading every book and article that seemed relevant for my story (and then some), I toured Chicago with a guide who designed a tour based specifically on what I wanted to know and see before I started writing the novel. On the same trip, I spent time in the Chicago
      Historical Society’s archives and the Newberry Library, reading primary source material. A second trip to Chicago gave my daughter and me a chance to experience other aspects
      important to the novel, such as a concert with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, a visit to the Art Institute, and a stop at the Palmer House hotel.
  2. In what ways do you relate to the character of Sylvie Townsend?
    Sylvie is a book-loving introvert who doesn’t like crowds but enjoys public speaking when the topic interests her. That’s me, completely. On a deeper level, I understand Sylvie’s tendency to keep a tight rein on her daughter, Rose. As a parent of a teenager, I identify with
    that struggle to find the right balance of letting my daughter make her own decisions and mistakes as part of growing up and wanting to protect her from them. As Sylvie finds out in the novel, that desire to protect can lead to both a grasping for control and the realization of
    how very little we do control. I relate to all of this.
  3. This is your second novel in The Windy City Saga series. We’ve gotten to know sisters Meg and Sylvie pretty well by now. Who will be the focus of the third book?
    Book 3 in the series will pick up with Meg’s adult daughter Olive in 1915, which is when the Eastland Disaster took place in the Chicago River. You’ll meet Olive as a child in Shadows of the White City, and she’ll be twenty-nine when we focus on her story. Each book in this
    series explores a seminal part of Chicago’s history and how the Townsend family overcomes in the face of change and trials.
  4. Are the novels in this series classified as mysteries?
    Readers will discover that these novels have an element of mystery to them, but they remain firmly in the historical fiction genre. The main priority of the story, as ever, is given to the developing characters and the history-in-the-making around them.
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Veiled in Smoke by Jocelyn Green

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About the Book

Title: Veiled in Smoke

Series: The Windy City Saga (#1)

Author: Jocelyn Green

Publisher: Bethany House Publishers

Released: February 4, 2020 ( I read an ARC.)

Genre: Christian Historical

Meg and Sylvie Townsend manage the family bookshop and care for their father, Stephen, a veteran still suffering in mind and spirit from his time as a POW during the Civil War. But when the Great Fire sweeps through Chicago’s business district, they lose much more than just their store.

The sisters become separated from their father, and after Meg burns her hands in an attempt to save a family heirloom, they make a harrowing escape from the flames with the help of Chicago Tribune reporter Nate Pierce. Once the smoke clears away, they reunite with Stephen, only to learn soon after that their family friend not only died during the fire–he was murdered. Even more shocking, Stephen is charged with the crime and committed to the Cook County Insane Asylum. Though homeless, injured, and suddenly unemployed, Meg must not only gather the pieces of her shattered life, but prove her father’s innocence before the asylum truly drives him mad.

My Review

“It was a lie, Meg had realized years ago, that the end of the war meant the end of suffering.” The Civil War is over, and the boys and men who survived are home. Yet Meg and her sister, Sylvie Townsend, discover that Stephen Townsend’s time in notorious Andersonville has wreaked havoc with his grip on reality. Meanwhile, Nathaniel Pierce of the Chicago Tribune interviews Stephen as a veteran. Life becomes murky when the city catches fire and Stephen’s best friend is murdered, leaving Stephen the cops’ main suspect.

Veiled in Smoke 1


Jocelyn Green is an expert at creating historically accurate and intriguing backgrounds while painting in-depth portraits of her characters. Both Meg and Sylvie exhibit intense loyalty and love for their parents, as well as a great need for their approval. Unfortunately, their understanding of their parents’ love and care is limited by the blinders they wear.
The young ladies also wear blinders when it comes to the young men in their lives. They cannot truly see the love, honesty, and true character(or lack thereof) of their beaux.
So many ideas and themes are presented. Forgiveness. The idea that it’s ok to be imperfect, and in fact, sometimes imperfect is better. Also, accepting life as it is, imperfect, not expecting it to be rosy or requiring others to be perfectly well or perfectly behaved all the time. (Ouch! Preaching to myself!!) True compassion. Sometimes we can’t achieve this until we’ve walked a mile in somebody else’s shoes, or at least had a bit of hardship in life. Faith, believing God is limitless and truly in control.
Two more thoughts. It was hard to breathe as I traveled with Meg and Sylvie and Nate as they desperately tried to outrun the Great Fire. I could smell the smoke, my lungs felt full to bursting, and my anxiety level was high. And then many somethings began falling from the sky!

Veiled in Smoke 2


I had never heard of the term, “soldier’s heart.” How fitting. How sad. So many times, we, the civilians for whom those men and now women sacrificed, refuse to understand and accept with open arms our vets who return to us.
As usual, Jocelyn Green will have me thinking for a long time to come about people and their treatment of others.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and publisher. No positive response was required. All opinions are my own.
 

My Rating

5 Stars- Hits My Reading Sweet Spot ( and makes me think and think!)

About the Author

2578437Jocelyn Green is a former journalist who puts her investigative skills to work in writing both nonfiction and historical fiction to inspire faith and courage.

The honors her books have received include the Christy Award in historical fiction and gold medals from the Military Writers Society of America and the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association.

Complex and nuanced characters, rich historical detail and twisting plots make her novels immersive experiences. Her fiction has been praised by Historical Novel Society, Romantic Times, Library Journal, historians specializing in her novels’ time periods, as well as popular and acclaimed authors Laura Frantz, Lori Benton, Jody Hedlund, Sarah Sundin, Joanne Bischof, Julie Lessman, and more.

Jocelyn loves Broadway musicals, the color red, strawberry-rhubarb pie, Mexican food, and well-done documentaries. She lives in Iowa with her husband, two children, and two cats she should have named Catticus Finch and Purrman Meowville.

Visit her at jocelyngreen.com.