Title: The Charleston Scandal
Author: Pamela Hart
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Hachette Australia
Published: 24th November 2020
Synopsis: If you devoured THE CROWN you will love this exuberant story of a young Australian actress caught up in the excesses, royal intrigues and class divide of Jazz Age London, losing her way but reclaiming her heart in the process
London, 1920s: Kit Scott, a privileged young Australian aiming to become a star, arrives in the city to find the Jazz Age in full swing. Cast in a West End play opposite another young hopeful, Canadian Zeke Gardiner, she dances blithely into the heady lifestyle of English high society and the London theatre set, from Noel Coward to Fred Astaire and his sister, Adele.
When Kit is photographed dancing the Charleston alongside the Prince of Wales, she finds herself at the centre of a major scandal, sending the Palace into damage control and Kit to her aristocratic English relatives – and into the arms of the hedonistic Lord Henry Carleton. Amid the excesses of the Roaring Twenties, both Zeke and Kit are faced with temptations – and make choices that will alter the course of their lives forever.
Readers of Natasha Lester’s A KISS FROM MR FITZGERALD will love THE CHARLESTON SCANDAL. Bestselling author Pamela Hart’s energetic, masterful storytelling will have you glued right until the end.
Pamela Hart’s historical fiction books are always a joy. They place women at the centre of the narrative, and The Charleston Scandal is no exception. Kit Linton has moved to London to pursue her dream of being an actor, putting her society and privileged upbringing behind her to enter a world that some see as something a proper young woman should not be doing. She is caught up in a world where she is exposed to an entirely different world to the one she grew up in, and where the class structure is more distinct in London than back in Australia.
When Kit is caught dancing with the Prince of Wales in 1923, who would become King Edward VIII in 1936, a scandal breaks out. The palace goes into damage control, and Kit is forced into a relationship with Lord Henry Carleton to ensure the Prince’s reputation is not sullied as he is prepared for his future role as king (and we all know how that eventually turned out). Reluctantly, Kit agrees, and soon finds herself at the beck and call of Henry and has to balance his demands with the life she wants to lead, and the people she knows like Zeke, and her connections with people like Noël Coward.
Societal expectations and personal desires are at odds in this novel, where women are at times severely restricted and the expectations that society places on Kit constantly come through in this novel, and Kit is constantly fighting against them. Pamela pulls all these threads together perfectly, and I loved the cameo of a couple of her other characters from A Letter From Italy – it was so well done, and carefully thought out. It suited the narrative that is filled with headstrong and independent women determined to forge their own paths, and not conform to society. What I loved about Kit’s relationship with Zeke was the respect within it, and the growth from friendship to love. This is what made this storyline powerful – Zeke didn’t want to hurt Kit, he wanted to be there for her. He was a very effective contrast to Henry, whose privilege shines through, and his actions show what a life of privilege can lead to. It is the life Kit wanted to leave behind yet she was pulled back in for the purpose of protecting someone else and the matter of appearances.
At its heart, this book is about being yourself, and following your dreams – and not compromising these for anyone. It captures the 1920s and interwar period perfectly, in that sliver of time between the tragedy of World War One and the Spanish Flu pandemic, and the Depression and World War Two. The world of theatre is exquisitely drawn and painted with words, and the characters that populate the world are richly created and well-rounded. It follows on in a way, timeline wise from Pamela’s ANZAC books.
Another wonderful book from Pamela Hart!