Fashion Book: Half-Blood Blues
I read Half-Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan last month and found it to be immensely entertaining and really informative. The novel tells the story of Sidney Griffiths, a black American jazz musician living in Berlin in 1939, playing with a group of musicians including a young German trumpet genius named Hiero, when they are invited to play with Louis Armstrong in Paris. They go, partly to escape the increasingly fraught atmosphere of Berlin, and are caught in Paris when WWII explodes. The group struggles to record, in secret, while trying to remain under cover, until Hiero, also black, is arrested for not possessing the proper identification papers and is never heard from again.
The story shifts in time from 1939 Berlin to Paris and to current day, when Sid is beckoned back to Berlin and forced to confront his past. What I liked most about the book is the way the characters talk to each other, and how adeptly Edugyan recreates the underground world of jazz during the 1930s and 40s. My favorite thing, though, was how much I learned about the treatment of different groups of people during World War II–it’s not something that’s always discussed, and I found it to be fascinating.
For my fashion book, I was inspired by Delilah, one of Louis Armstrong’s singers who brings the musicians from Berlin to Paris. Sid falls in love with Delilah, and it’s easy to see why. She’s beautiful and self-assured and brave. She wears elaborately designed scarves as turbans and always looks elegant, no matter what the situation. I tried to create a look that was sophisticated, chic, and classic. I think my longing for spring comes through in the mint and coral color palette!
What books have you read that offered an unexpected history lesson?