The Girl from the Savoy
Dolly Lane’s dream is to be someone, specifically a chorus girl in post-Great War London. Her move from being a maid at a small country house to cleaning rooms at the Savoy Hotel in London is a step in that direction, as she tells her new roommates, several of whom share her fantasies of fame and fortune. What she doesn’t tell them is her real reason for leaving Mawdesley Hall and the dreadful secret of her past.
Dolly literally runs into her ticket onto the stage, in the form of Perry Clements, a composer in search of inspiration. His sister, iconic performer Loretta May, is also searching for something more. The relationship these three begin to build teaches them all something about humanity, and about real life outside of the sequins, outrageous behavior, and upbeat rhythms of the Jazz Age. Along the way Dolly learns other hard lessons, about trust, power, and memory; she has to grow up to achieve her dreams, and sometimes that means leaving others behind.
Gaynor’s story is fast-paced, light, and mostly bright even during Dolly’s difficult times. Readers will enjoy the descriptions of the vibrant London nightlife and the Pretty Young Things who defined the era; there’s plenty of name-dropping and gossip in the halls of the Savoy to help set the scene. Reminders of the war are present, as well, with disabled veterans and discussions of the boys who didn’t come back keeping Dolly and her friends connected to their previous lives and injecting the occasional somber note, which provides some balance to the tale. Dolly’s optimism and hope, however, will keep readers cheering for her and the other young women coming of age during this time.