The Roaring Days of Zora Lily

The Cover of "The Roaring Days of Zora Lily" by Noelle Salazar
Noelle Salazar
Jan 19, 2024

Hello and welcome to the latest edition of No Wait Wednesday, where we turn the spotlight on a book that's on the "New Release" section at one of our Library branches that we think absolutely deserves your attention. The best thing of all? There's no waitlist (at the moment!), so place your holds now!

Today's book is The Roaring Days of Zora Lily by Noelle Salazar. If you're a fan of historical fiction, then you might know that Salazar made some noise in the World War Two sub-genre a few years ago with her well-regarded 2019 debut about a group of female pilots, The Flight Girls, that combined historical details, a sweet romance, and a quick and enjoyable plot into a pleasantly digestible mix that charmed readers. Salazar again dips her toe into the historical fiction waters, but this time setting her tale back in time a bit further to the 1920s with a breezy rags-to-riches tale set during the height of Prohibition that stretches from the back alleys of Seattle to the height of Hollywood glamour.

The story begins in the current day, where an archivist is going through exhibition items for a display of classic dresses and gowns worn during Hollywood's Golden Age. While looking at a dress worn by Greta Garbo, the archivist notices a label artfully hidden under the designer's label that reads simply "Zora Lily," which launches the rest of the novel told in flashback, as we get introduced to Zora and follow her life from (literal) rags to (almost) riches.  

in 1924, Zora Lily Hough lives on the wrong side of the tracks, born one of seven siblings in a hardscrabble Seattle neighborhood where her mother finds occasional work as a seamstress, teaching a young Zora to help out as she grows up. It's clear that Zora has lots of talent, but can only find steady work as a nanny for a wealthier family, tending to children during the day while investigating the surprisingly large amounts of local speakeasies during the evenings, dancing the night away. This is all the life that Zora could hope for, however fate intervenes when she manages to use her skills to land a gig sewing costumes for her friends' nightclub review act that eventually leads her to  the bright lights of Hollywood, designing and crafting dresses and gowns that are seen the world over. She doesn't make it to the top by herself, if course, as there's usually a friend she makes along her journey that helps her out just when she needs it the most, and there's a romance that lasts through the book, as Zora meets a dashing Englishman while clubbing, and when disaster strikes, she'll find out if it's just a passing fling or something more akin to true love. Her determination and willingness to make a success of things, whatever the circumstance, makes her a character the reader can cheer for.

The Roaring Days of Zora Lily is a breezy, feel-good historical fiction novel, perfect for those who might be attracted to the genre but don't want to get bogged down in details - Salazar is excellent at keeping the tone light and the pace quick, so even when Zora has her setbacks, she's back on her feet and moving forward, along with the story. And, if you come to the genre for period-accurate details, Salazar will not disappoint, and readers who are a fan of stories involving the Prohibition era and stores set in classic Hollywood should enjoy this one. Sharp-eyed fans of the Johnson County Library's Staff Picks Blog might notice that we've featured a historical novel involving a determined young woman who made a name for herself in the fashion world - just a few years ago we discussed By Her Own Design by Piper Huguley which covers a lot of similar ground, however Huguley's novel was based on a true story while Salazar's is strictly fiction. Readers who enjoy authors like Fiona Davis and Kate Quinn should enjoy these books. 

Thanks for reading! We hope you enjoy our NoWaitWednesday posts, and we'll see you next time!

Reviewed by Gregg W.
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