Jobyna’s Blues by Jane Alden is a historical romance set over two time periods. In 1924 a naïve young woman, Lily, escapes her humdrum life for that of a chorus line dancer for the famous blues singer, Jobyna Jones. She is drawn to the singer and they soon become lovers. Travelling the South as women of colour poses many risks, but the excitement of moving from city to city on a beautifully converted railway carriage with the woman she loves outweighs the risks for Lily.

The mid 1960s sees Jobie Greene, a Greenwich Village folk singer, try to make it in the music business while juggling a long-distance relationship with a famous British pop singer.

In both time periods change is happening, both socially and culturally – but will the changes allow the women to be who they want to be – and love the women they want to love?

The Characters

I liked Lily. She was young and a bit green but full of wonder and enthusiasm about her new life. Seeing her in different stages of her life made me appreciate her more. She lived through turbulent times but managed to be happy and find what she needed. I wasn’t quite so drawn to Jobyna. I was never quite sure what she really wanted and whether she loved Lily enough.

I really liked Jobie. She felt relatable and her story appealed to me more. Her life in the swinging sixties was exciting and vibrant and we got to meet a host of famous pop stars. Seeing it all through her eyes was thrilling. Deedee was very obviously based on a particular person. Once you read it, you’ll know exactly who.  And most of you will love who it is. Reading about her in this story was lovely.

The Writing Style

The historical aspects of the story were very well done. The 1920s in the South was not an easy place for women of colour to make a living – they had the twin issues of racial prejudice and misogyny to deal with. Ms Alden managed to get this across extremely well. When we move to the 1960s, I felt as if I was right there, swinging along with them. The name dropping of various celebrities, the festivals and TV shows, made it seem so real. It was very well paced and I enjoyed it more and more as it went on. The sense of time and place was well written

The Pros

I preferred the second part of the book, set in the 1960s. I loved the historical detail of the music scene. I also felt the excitement and attraction more between Jobie and Deedee.  There is romance but it’s not what stands out for me – I liked the feel of the times and the social history aspect. 

The Cons

I didn’t feel the love story between Lily and Jobyna grabbed me so much. Yes, they were together – but it felt like an unbalanced relationship.  Age and status were issues.

The Conclusion

This story is certainly worth reading. I love historical novels and by setting it in two eras it really piqued my interest. There are two important love stories and that in itself would be enough, but by weaving in the social and cultural issues of the day the author really grabbed me. The story got better and better as it went on, and by the end I was a very happy reader. She captured joy and love and family in this story. I really enjoyed it.

Excerpt from Jobyna’s Blues

Lily had ridden a bus and had walked down Market Street in Chattanooga, but she had never glided down the street in a flashy yellow car. In the gathering twilight, people on the sidewalk stopped to stare and wave as they passed. She felt pride sitting in the backseat holding hands with Jobyna Jones, the Empress of Blues. She stole a sideways look at Jobyna, staring out the car window and puffing on a cigarette through her ebony cigarette holder. Lily waited for Jobyna to talk about their future as she had in her letter, about the house they would have together in Atlanta.

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Bits and Bobs

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Note: I received a free review copy of Jobyna’s Blues by Jane Alden. No money was exchanged for this review. When you use our links to buy we get a small commission which supports the running of this site