Read Windy City Blues by Renee Rosen Online


The bestselling author of "White Collar Girl" and "What the Lady Wants" explores one woman's journey of self-discovery set against the backdrop of a musical and social revolution. In the middle of the twentieth century, the music of the Mississippi Delta arrived in Chicago, drawing the attention of entrepreneurs like the Chess brothers. Their label, Chess Records, helped sThe bestselling author of "White Collar Girl" and "What the Lady Wants" explores one woman's journey of self-discovery set against the backdrop of a musical and social revolution. In the middle of the twentieth century, the music of the Mississippi Delta arrived in Chicago, drawing the attention of entrepreneurs like the Chess brothers. Their label, Chess Records, helped shape that music into the Chicago Blues, the soundtrack for a transformative era in American History. But, for Leeba Groski, Chess Records was just where she worked... Leeba doesn't exactly fit in, but her passion for music and her talented piano playing captures the attention of her neighbor, Leonard Chess, who offers her a job at his new record company. What begins as answering phones and filing becomes much more as Leeba comes into her own as a songwriter and befriends performers like Muddy Waters, Howlin Wolf, Chuck Berry, and Etta James. But she also finds love with a black blues guitarist named Red Dupree. With their relationship unwelcome in segregated Chicago and shunned by Leeba's Orthodox Jewish family, she and Red soon find themselves in the middle of the Civil Rights Movement and they discover that, in times of struggle, music can bring people together....

Title : Windy City Blues
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781101991121
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 448 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Windy City Blues Reviews

  • Renee Rosen
    2019-05-07 08:52

    To my fellow Goodreads friends, I wanted to share something with you about what went into the writing of Windy City Blues. In the name of research I traveled the Blues Highway, visited juke joints, met with musicians, interviewed deejays from back in the 1950s and 1960s, spent time with Willie Dixon's grandson and members of the Chess family and I can honestly say that the research for this novel has changed the way I hear music and broadened my understanding of race relations, then and now. I cannot wait to share it with you. Thanks for reading...Renee P.S. A quick update. We now have a cover. You can check it out here:

  • Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews
    2019-05-03 07:47

    Leeba lived in the Jewish section of Chicago, had an ear for music, and worked in a music store.Outside the music store Leeba heard Red Dupree playing his guitar and became fascinated with him. Many musicians played on the streets of Chicago trying to be discovered, but Red was different, and Leeba couldn't stop thinking about him.WINDY CITY BLUES is set in Chicago during the coming of the Blues Era.I really have no knowledge of music, but Ms. Rosen's marvelous research definitely got me acquainted with the Blues Era and brought up some names I have heard of. I enjoyed learning how records were made and how the "sellers" of the records had to hand sell them at the beginning of this era.​Following the characters through their days and music careers was very entertaining and interesting. WINDY CITY BLUES was a pleasurable read.​​ The characters were fun.Leeba's mother was my favorite character because she ​was ​always trying to find a Jewish boy for Leeba. Leeba was sweet and talented. Leonard the owner of Chess Records was high energy.WINDY CITY BLUES is a marvelous read and a treasure for music fans and historical fiction fans. The multiple love stories also add to the book's interest.​ WINDY CITY BLUES is a memorable read with characters that will be missed when you turn the last page. 4/5This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation by the publisher in return for an honest re​view.

  • Cindy Burnett
    2019-05-05 08:41

    4.5 starsWindy City Blues is a fantastic book that addresses both the influence of blues on today’s music and the Civil Rights Movement. The story focuses on Leeba Groski and her determination to follow her own path and pursue her personal dreams. Through Leeba, Renee Rosen manages to depict how Southern blues arrives in Chicago and forever changes the music industry while also helping lead to eventual desegregation. As a huge music lover myself, I was totally intrigued with the music aspects of this book. I didn’t know that records could be recorded cheaply in the back of music stores in the 1950’s, the process by which songs were chosen to play on the radio, and the actual influence this type of music has on what we listen to even today. Rosen includes so many fascinating details about music and its development; I found it all so interesting. The cover is also spectacular and just perfect for the book.I highly recommend this wonderful novel. Thanks to First to Read for the chance to read it in exchange for an honest review.

  • Sonja Yoerg
    2019-05-17 10:38

    Rosen hits all the right notes in this moving story of music, ambition and love. After World War II, blues musicians from the South made their way to the gritty streets of Chicago, hoping for a breath of freedom and the chance for a new sound--the electric blues. Music lovers will appreciate Rosen's painstaking research and deep understanding of the genesis and influence of this iconic sound. But Windy City Blues goes far beyond a lively musical history; Rosen puts real characters on the stage and makes them sing and play for their lives. Racial conflict--black, white, Jewish--is front and center, making the struggles and triumphs as relevant to today's world as they were sixty years ago, strumming the same heartbreaking, soulful, all-too-human riff.

  • TL
    2019-05-09 13:45

    I received this via Goodreads Giveaways in exchange for an honest review. All my opinions are my own.:)---'Certain books when you read them, you think "That was good." Other books when you finish them, you close them thinking: "Well that sucks." Not because the book was bad, but because you form a relationship with the people in the book and you are sad to leave them."(Said by my soul-sister Jessie, paraphrased a bit only because I'm sick and my brain is foggy but the sentiment is there).~~~~That's what this book was for me... this is a powerful book but not in an obvious, its more subtle... weaving its threads into you a bit at a time.Even the settings in this are a character in and of themselves, not described in great detail but the vibes and the people make you feel like you are there. Everything just comes across so vividly, I had to keep looking up the ones who were "fictional" to make sure they weren't real. (I was especially disappointed Red Dupree wasn't a real person).THAT'S the power of great writing right there. And reading about the set up of Chess records and seeing on the periphery (the story is more focused on the personal side of everyone but the music parts are still vital) all the great artists who went through there... WOW, just wow. I was a little star struck even just reading about these people, wishing I could have been there in the studios with em all.Everyone here has their flaws, fear, insecurities.. etc. Good people who put it all on the line and fought for what they believed in, no matter what it was.Leeba and Red were easy to root for... they both grew so much over the course of the story in their own ways and I was continuously proud of them.I do wish we had gotten to know Phil better but we do see him fairly well through Leonard's eyes. There were times I was mentally lecturing Leonard along with Leeba and his family to slow down, take it easy, and take care of himself. His work ethic and intentions were admirable, but you still worry for him.There situations in here that both angered me, and broke my heart... often at the same time. I wanted to go back through time and smack some of these people. While my intentions would be good maybe, probably wouldn't have helped. (Heck, my mouth probably would have gotten me into big trouble at times)If I were living back then, I don't know what kind of person I would have been... if I would have been as brave as Leeba, Red, and the others fighting for civil rights and putting their lives on the line at times. Aileen was one of the most vibrant and tragic in her own way, she went through so much in life... fighting off her demons and feeling passionately (view spoiler)[ Don't know if I am totally off-base here, but wondering if Aileen was... mentally ill? Something in the way she acted sometimes... I loved her don't get me wrong, that thought would pop up randomly throughout the book.(hide spoiler)] When she (view spoiler)[took her own life(hide spoiler)] my heart broke along with Leeba, but in a way I saw it coming even though I hoped I would be wrong.Miss Rosen does a beautiful job of balancing all the elements of the story, neither one overshadows or overpowers the other... I am having trouble finding the words, but I am in awe of what she has written here.If I have any complaints about this, it would be that I still wanted to keep going and didn't want to leave these people behind. I felt a part of their lives, and they have burrowed their way into my heart.Highly recommend.(I've reworked this a couple times and still not completely happy with it, only problem with organizing your thoughts on a great book)["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

  • Oreoandlucy
    2019-05-18 06:54

    Please visit my blog for more reviews:http://reviewsofbooksonmynightstand.b...Leeba's passion is music, blues in particular, even though she is a Polish Jew. She falls in love with blues player, Red Dupree; a love that is forbidden by her family and the society that they live in. Leeba works at Aristocrat, a record company that is partially owned by Leonard Chess who also owns the Macomba Lounge, a club for the local African-American community. Leonard and Leeba believe in a new music genre and want to product "race records". Leeba encourages Leonard to record music by then unknown, Muddy Waters, and to explore more blues music. This leads to Leonard starting Chess Records, a record company that specialized in promoting race records. Windy City Blues is historical fiction that touches on race relations, music and love. I found the cursing in this book unnecessary and excessive for the subject matter. It made it difficult to appreciate the story of African-American and Jewish relations in Chicago. While Leeba and Red speak, they realize that the Jews and the African-Americans had a lot more in common at the time than they realized. It was a fun read, even though there were some important and hard issues addressed in the book. I appreciated that interracial relationships and race relations were a part of a story that was woven so seamlessly in with a backdrop of an iconic genre of music. The music took some of the heat off of the drama of the civil rights movement, without downplaying the importance of the movement and the people who were effected by it. I loved the characters, especially Red and Leeba, who were so vibrant and alive. This story is unlike many of the others that I have read about the civil rights movement. You can feel the music while reading the book and I think it would be a great read for anyone that is interested in historical fiction, especially fiction set during the civil rights movement, but is looking for something lighter. I also recommend it to those who want to learn more about the relations between African-Americans and Jews in the 1940s and 1950s.Thank you to Netgalley and Berkley Books for an advanced copy of this book for review purposes. All opinions are my own.

  • Olivia
    2019-05-01 10:32

    Superb story of Leeba Groski, a Jewish woman who's originally from Poland, and Red Dupree, a black man who's come up to Chicago from the Jim Crow South, who fall in love against the backdrop of the postwar music business and become involved in the civil rights movement. Thoroughly recommended.

  • Meg - A Bookish Affair
    2019-05-06 12:53

    In "Windy City Blues," Renee Rosen takes us back to Chicago albeit in a different era than her other books. It is the middle of the 20th century and Leeba, the daughter of orthodox Jewish immigrants, feels out of place. She's taller than most and coming from an immigrant family, she always feels like she has to work to make herself fit in. When she lucks out in getting a job in a record store, it opens a brand new world of music to her. The blues are coming to Chicago and will change the landscape of American music forever.Having read some of Rosen's other books, I knew that I would be in good hands with this book and I was. Again, she gives us a great heroine. Leeba finds herself and her place in this world through her involvement with the blues movement. She falls in love with Red, a musician. He is black. She is white. Interracial relationships brought a lot of scrutiny during that time period and much of the book is involved with how they deal with a relationship that is not easily accepted and helps them realize that they need to do something in order to protect both their relationship and relationships like theirs.Music is often political and has a role in history. This is especially true for the blues. The blues come around at a critical time in American history where the world is rapidly changing. The Civil Rights Movement is beginning to take hold during the events of the book and I loved how the author was able to pull in not only the musical history of the time but able to tie it to some of the big events of the time. This serves to create a really immersive experience for the reader!This is a good book set in a fascinating time! I really enjoyed it.

  • Barbara
    2019-05-11 08:43

    My second book by Renee Rosen has cemented her shelf space as a favorite author. Windy City Blues dealt with an era that I knew very little about. I new little about the music, the blues, that was at the heart of this historical fiction story, I knew little about the history including segregation and racism, and the book left me wanting to know more. I found myself checking You Tube during my reading of the book, because I wanted to hear the songs that were sited in the story. I found myself Googling and checking Wikipedia to get more information on pieces of history from the book. Who would have thought that two, Jewish, immigrant brothers from Poland would be the powerhouses behind the record label that gave so many blues musicians their start? Ms. Rosen effortlessly wove the real story of the Chess brothers into an amazing piece of historical fiction, adding in Leeba Groski neighbor of the Chess Bros., who worked for Chess Records, her romantic interest Red Dupree, an up and coming blues guitarist who in the story works with Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry, and Etta James as a contracted musician of Chess Records. As Leeba/Leah and Red's relationship grows, they marry and face discrimination as a mixed race couple. I shed tears when Leah & Red head south as Freedom Riders and they faced the angry mob along with other civil rights supporters including Martin Luther King Jr. I think this book will be in my top ten for 2017!

  • Sue
    2019-04-30 13:56

    I don't read much historical fiction and after reading Windy City Blues, I am convinced that I need to read more of this genre. This was a fantastic book about blues music in Chicago in the 50s. Because I grew up with 60s music, I was aware of the influence of blues music on early rock and roll artists like the The Rolling Stones and this book gave me so much information that I didn't know about how the music was brought up from the South and basically changed the music that American was listening to.The story is about the founding of Chess Records by two white Jewish men who knew that they wanted to introduce a new sound to music but there is so much more than just music. There is also a lot of information about race relations in the north and the south, the beginnings of the civil rights movement and the Freedom riders and the daily struggle for black people. This story line is brought out by the relationship between Leeba, a white Jewish girl, and Red, a black blues guitarist. I definitely enjoyed this book and learning about the early blues musicians. The author really did a lot of research and it's apparent on every page. Definitely one of my favorite books of the last few months.Thanks to goodreads for a copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

  • Shelley
    2019-04-26 07:58

    Ms. Rosen has done it again as she pulls the reader into a time and place with characters so deftly imagined you actually feel like you’re living the story with them.Riveting reading, often heartbreaking, with moments of pure elation.

  • Darcia Helle
    2019-05-02 09:35

    As far as content, this book ticks all the right boxes for me. I'm a huge fan of the blues and the genre's evolution into mainstream music, and I enjoy historical fiction rooted in realism. But, while I did find the content interesting, the story just didn't hook me the way it could have. Much of my disconnect is a result of the volume of characters and lack of any solid main character. According to the book's description, this story should belong to Leeba. And, yes, she is a large part of the story. But so are many, many other characters, including her boss, her best friend, her boyfriend, and a long list of musicians, both real and fictional. We delve into Leeba's boss's family life, the beginnings of Chess Records, Leeba's boyfriend's early life, her best friend's rocky romantic life, and so on. Each character has an interesting story to share, but combined there are simply too many competing against one another.The plot hits on some topics that should be highly compelling. We look at the destructive nature of racism, alongside the rise of blues into the mainstream at the expense of the very people who brought us those sounds. But, because of the volume of characters and the many plot directions, the result feels more scattered than compelling.The author clearly did a ton of research for this book. I've read a lot of nonfiction about early blues music, and she absolutely nails the struggles of those early musicians. At times, though, this book has the feel of one of those nonfiction books, as too many names are dropped and too many of those blues musicians move in and out of the story. The real story of Chess Records is indeed fascinating, but, again, too much of that was included here, overshadowing Leeba's story. Much of this book reads more like a nonfiction account of Chess Records, with a few fictional characters tossed into the mix. In the end, I felt this was more a slightly fictionalized story of Chess Records, with the founders Leonard and Phil Chess as the lead characters. Leeba's dramatic and touching story gets swallowed up within all that research.*I was provided with an advance ebook copy by the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review.*

  • Letty
    2019-05-26 13:46

    Excellent book!! I'm a music lover, book lover, and historical fiction lover so how excited was I to read this book? Very. And I was not disappointed. I listened to the audio version of this book and the narration by Robin Miles was outstanding! This is the story of brothers Leonard and Phil Chess, Polish born immigrants, who founded Chess Records in 1950 Chicago, Illinois during the birth of the blues scene. I was familiar with many record labels but not familiar with Chess Records so I was surprised to learn that they were the first to sign such amazing talents as Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry, Etta James, just to name a few. This is such a riveting read about the struggles of not only starting a record label, finding artists to sign, and getting that music played on the radio, it also dealt with the struggles of being black, Jewish and an immigrant. It was heartbreaking listening to some of the events that took place in the book knowing that they actually happened and, unfortunately, continue to happen now. Renee Rosen did a fantastic job researching and writing Windy City Blues. I think there should be a blues soundtrack to go along with this book. I highly recommend it!

  • Susan Peterson
    2019-05-13 06:36

    Windy City Blues is a riveting, compelling novel; a sweeping story that takes the reader from the birth of the Blues in the 1940's through its many incarnations beginning as race music, then R&B, and finally, rock and roll in the 1960's. We get to know Leonard and Phil Chess who ran Chess Records, and all the artists they gave us; Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Chuck Berry, and Etta James. Along with that fascinating story, we follow the ill-fated romance between Leeba, a Jewish girl who works at Chess, and Red Dupree, a black blues musician. Shunned by her family, victimized by others who disapprove, Leeba and Red find themselves at the cusp of the Civil Rights movement. The relationship between these two is honest, lovely, and at times heartbreaking and sad. Renee Rosen has truly captured the mood, the spirit, and the soul of Chicago, its music, and the talented, troubled musicians of this era. I was completely captivated by all the characters in this story, their struggles, their successes, and their persistence.

  • Jennifer S. Brown
    2019-05-23 12:48

    I love it when a book not only engrosses me in the story but inspires me to learn more outside of the novel. Windy City Blues is about romance, the Civil Rights movement, Chicago, and most of all, music. I had no idea the history of the music I listen to and it was fascinating to read about Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, and Chuck Berry. This book had me running to Spotify to hear the music of them and of other artists I was less familiar with.But the heart of this novel is Leeba, a young Jewish girl who longs to be a songwriter and who works at the legendary Chess Records. She falls in love with a black musician, completely taboo in the 1950s even in Chicago, as she pursues a life in the world of what is first "race music" then "R&B" and finally, simply, "rock and roll." Her involvement with the Freedom Riders and the Civil Rights is fascinating and captures the movement from the Jewish perspective. The novel is told from three points of view: Leeba, her romantic interest Red Dupree, and Leonard Chess, one of the founders of the record label. Each voice is distinct and each story equally compelling. The ending of the book was perfect--gave me chills as I read it. A great read for fans of historical fiction and for book groups.

  • Lisa Welch
    2019-04-28 10:50

    The perfect read to start the new year! Renee Rosen has done it again. She has masterfully woven together her detailed research with her unbelievably amazing storytelling skills to give us a novel that won't be forgotten. Windy City Blues gives us a snapshot of life in Chicago at the height of the Blues Era as we learn more about the inner workings of music recording and distribution during the 1940's-1960's with the story of Chess Records. The subject of race relations, and the differences between the north and the south is prevalent throughout the book, and gave me such a sense of what life was like during this turbulent time. Rosen's writing is engrossing and continues to develop with each novel, and her character development is outstanding. I am sad to put these characters away! This may well be my favorite Rosen book yet!

  • CathAY
    2019-04-29 12:50

    This book was Great! The CHICAGO Blues - what a wonderful subject matter. It has made me apppreciate what these musicians went through to get their music heard! Living in Chicago, we take for grant it the fantastic music we can go listen to LIVE on any given weekend. We have seen legendary greats like BBKing, Buddy Guy, his young protege Johnny Lange, Mavis Staple! etc. While I was reading the book, I would listen to the recordings cited. Renee Rosen skillfully brings you back to that era and surrounds you with what was going on during that time period. The Chess Brothers-those motherfuckers-men before their time-not only on racial issues but look at what they did for the music industry. Who knew their contribution to the music world would be so outstanding (apparently our friends on the other side of the pond)? Fun book that intertwines fact and fiction. Opens your mind on racial issues, music, etc. I highly recommend this book-you are learning while being entertained. FUN Book!

  • April Mahlbacher
    2019-05-19 10:41


  • Maya B
    2019-05-17 10:44

    Interesting piece of Chicago history and the blues. This is the story about the founder of Chess records, Leonard Chess. It was nice to read about the some of the blues artists of that era. Well researched. I gave it 3 stars because it was a slow pace read

  • Heidi
    2019-04-26 06:38

    Four stars: An entertaining and informative read that takes you through the rise of Rock and Roll as well as the Civil Rights Movement. Leeba is tired of feeling out of place. She is a tall, gangly and awkward teenager. Since Leeba hasn't found the right Jewish boy to marry, she works at a small music store. Leeba hates her boss, but she loves the music and the pianos in the shop. One day, Leeba's neighbor and friend, Leonard Chess offers her a job at his fledgling record company. Leeba's new job quickly becomes more than answering the phones and filing. Soon she is utilizing her own talent, writing songs and playing piano. As the record company grows, it signs on some memorable names such as Muddy Waters, Howlin Wolf, Chuck Barry and Etta James. Unfortunately, Leeba lives in the era before the Civil Rights Movement, and prejudice and segregation rule. Leeba falls in love with a black man, Red Dupree. Before long, she finds herself in the middle of the Civil Rights Movement. Can music possibly bring people together?What I Liked:*Windy City Blues is a book that is packed full of history. I loved learning about the beginnings of Rock and Roll and how African Americans infiltrated the music system and established the Rock and Roll Era. The story takes you through the humble beginnings, up through the heyday and beyond. I enjoyed seeing big name stars rise to fame under Chess records. This was a fascinating and entertaining read. *At the heart of the story are Red and Leeba. Leeba a Polish Jew and Red, an African American blues guitarist. The two meet and fall in love in a time when biracial couples were shunned. It was sad to see the hatred and violence they endured because of their relationship. I liked that both characters were fighters and that they stood up for what was right. I was shocked at the violence they encountered when they took part in the Freedom Movement. This was an eye opening read that exposes the ugliness of segregation. *The other driving force in the book is Leonard Chess. He is the heart and soul of Chess Records, and he helped put many music legends on the map such as Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry and Etta James. I liked seeing how the whole record industry took off, and l enjoyed learning all the ins and outs of the record business, recording and distributing. Leonard Chess was a legend in his time, and I loved that he was open minded and that he wasn't prejudice. *Ms. Rosen obviously spent a great deal of time and effort researching this novel, and it shows. This is a well written, informative and entertaining story that will take you through the Rock and Roll Era. If you want to know more about this turbulent and explosive time, read this book. And The Not So Much:*The book starts in the 1930s when Leeba and Leonard were kids on the street. I have to admit, the book started out a bit slow for me, but once the record company was on its feet, the story took off. This one requires some patience in the beginnings, but it is well worth the time and effort. *I knew going in that this was historical fiction, but I couldn't help getting lost in the story of Leeba and Red. At the end, I was disappointed to learn that Red and Leeba were entirely fictional characters. I felt a bit cheated. After learning the truth, I wished that Leonard had been the main character.Windy City Blues is an excellent book that blends historical fact with fiction to create an entertaining and informative story that chronicles the rise of the Rock and Roll Era as well as the Civil Rights Movement. This is a must read for fans of music. I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own, and I was not compensated for this review. Posted@Rainy Day Ramblings.

  • Cheryl
    2019-05-12 08:45

    Another favorite author of mine. The author does a wonderful job of infusing such life into all of the characters in this story. Although, to me it was like I could call everyone my closest friends. It was like I was transported back in time. I could feel the music, experienced the pain of racial segregation, and felt like part of a family. The relationship between Leeba and Red may not have been perfect but I am glad that their love was strong enough to survive. In the beginning, Leeba and Red were both just fresh faced youngsters but by the end of the story, they have matured into young adults. Through this book I found a new found respect for "Blues". Windy City Blues is a stunning, marvelous read!

  • Lauren
    2019-05-14 14:54

    This book is chock full of really great characters, both real (The Chess Brothers, Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry, etc.) and imagined (Leeba and Red Dupree, among others). Ostensibly telling the story of the Chicago Blues Scene of the 1940's and 1950's, it weaves a story of music, of race, of family in America during a turbulent and revolutionary time. The story centers around Leeba Groski, a young Jewish girl in Chicago whose family emigrated from Poland, Red Dupree, a young Blues musician who comes to Chicago from the Deep South to find success and fame, and Leonard Chess, one of two founders of Chess records, and childhood friend of Leeba. This book mingles and interweaves their stories in a really captivating tale, with characters it is easy to care about and whose ups and downs carry the story. Red Dupree was a character that could have easily become a stereotype and without going into spoilers, I will say that the way the author developed and evolved this character brought me a lot of joy. His character could have gone one way, but he went another, and I really like the way he went. For me, the mark of effective historical fiction is how much it makes me want to delve further into the people and time periods and movements covered. There's a handy little bibliography in the back of this book, and I've already copied it down and am looking up more on this wonderful story. I received a free digital galley of this book from Penguin's First to Read program. When I entered the giveaway, I honestly had no idea what I was getting myself into, didn't do more than skim the blurb about it, but this book was a really pleasant surprise.

  • Matthew
    2019-05-11 10:54

    2.5 stars.Set in a world where success is determined by hits and misses, Windy City Blues manages to do both. The novel opens like a pop song that introduces the hook from the very first note. Renee Rosen’s retelling of the “birth” of Chicago blues had me riveted from the onset – helpful that I’m a music buff and city resident – and was entertaining enough to keep me engaged during its first, far more superior, half. However, like many a song built around a singular hook, Windy City Blues became repetitive, meandering. By part 3 I found myself glossing over the egregious name-dropping and predictable sub-plots. Why spend 450 pages telling a story that could be done more concisely and with far more impact in 300? In addition to music Rosen touches upon several other themes, from civil rights to interracial relationships. And while it’s understandable these topics be included, at times they became too much of the emphasis. The strength of Windy City Blues is when its focus is on the music. Suffice to say I would’ve enjoyed it more had the entire composition been in tune.

  • Terri
    2019-05-24 08:36

    Windy City Blue is the story of Chess Records, told by the major players of the era--the Chess brothers, their childhood friend Leeba and the musicians that made two Polish immigrants in Chicago a success at spotting early rhythm and blues icons. If you like anything about music, R&B, and history, this is the book for you. From the early 40s to the end of the 60s, this book looks at these fast-changing, often tumultuous times from the perspective of people who could understand oppression but still didn't feel it as their friends had. What made this book most interesting is that it takes on historical moments like segregation and puts it in the context of the music of the time, which is a language that the whole world can understand. And with multiple narrators, the reader gets every perspective. *Book provided by Penguin First to Read

  • Susan
    2019-05-16 07:47

    When Penguin's First-to-Read program offered an advance copy of this book, I requested it because the subject matter of the record label interested me. One of my children currently works in marketing for a record label and I thought this book would give me some historical information about the music industry. It certainly delivered that and also gave insight into the beginning of the Civil Rights movement. Leeba was a central character and I would like to have seen more emphasis given to her role as a songwriter, but perhaps she took a back seat because this book was more about the Chess brothers and because she was a working woman in the 50s. The book is a bit longer than it needed to be to tell the story, but it held my interest to the end.

  • Jen
    2019-05-19 09:33

    In Windy City Blues, Renee Rosen does a wonderful job of building a story around a flourishing music scene in the 1950s and 60s with the Chess Brothers, Muddy Waters, and Chuck Berry with the Civil Rights Movement. Rosen artistically weaves fact and fiction into a very compelling story of a biracial couple who struggle to make it on the music scene, while demanding respect from their families, and society.I found that the book was often calling to me from corners of the room, and read it enthusiatically. I enjoyed reading about this incredibly important period in history very much.

  • Carol Boyer
    2019-04-29 13:29

    Masterly written, this book swept me away with deep emotions that I felt on a soul level. Bursting with the soaring sounds of the birth of Chicago Blues, during the civil rights movement this story about the love between Leeba Groski and a black blues guitarist Red Dupree was truly engrossing. The sounds of the performers that Leonard Chess of Chess Records and Phil his brother sought, like Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry, Robert Johnson, Etta James and Howlin' Wolf were well researched by Renee and I found myself going to U-tube to hear some of those old songs again. Leeba is hired as a file clerk by Leonard Chess, but is also a gifted songwriter. She befriends Aileen who has a wonderful singing talent and is obsessed with Muddy Waters. Leeba has her own heartaches as she steadfastly loves and marries Red Dupree against her parents adamant disapproval. They find James, a troubled young boy whom they mentor. Against the background of Jewtown their love was safe, however not in the eyes of the rest of the world. Their story, is one of the strife of segregation.As they follow the rights for freedom along with the poignant events that shaped their friends, there is pain and loss but also incredible strength. The sound of a guitarist playing the blues always mesmerizes me and the music stayed in my mind as I read every beautiful page of this story. This book brought many tears, happy sighs and the ending just blew me away. This is my first book by Renee Rosen but it will not be my last; this was brilliantly written.

  • Cindy Roesel
    2019-05-06 09:45

    It’s Chicago in the 1960s in Renee Rosen’s novel, WINDY CITY BLUES (Berkley). Leeba Goski finds herself in the middle of a musical and social revolution. She doesn’t exactly fit in, but her love of music is not lost on her childhood friend, Leonard Chess, who offers her a job at his new record company.What starts as low-level assistant job turns into  more than Leeba ever dreamed of. She becomes a songwriter and crosses paths with legendary performers like Chuck Berry and Etta James. But it’s Red Dupree, a black blues guitarist from Louisiana, who captures her heart and changes her life.Their relationship is unwelcome in segregated Chicago and they are cut off from Leeba’s Orthodox Jewish family. Yet in the midst of the Civil Rights Movement, Leeba and Red discover that, in times of struggle, music can bring people together.Renée is the bestselling author of  WHITE COLLAR GIRL, WHAT THE LADY WANTS: A NOVEL of MARSHALL FIELD and the GILDED AGE and DOLLFACE: A NOVEL of the ROARING TWENTIES, as well as the young adult novel, EVERY CROOKED POT. She lives in Chicago.

  • Jenny Belk
    2019-05-15 13:34

    Chicago-The Windy City-1940's- Blues singers have arrived in the city hopefully to make a living doing what they love in a place less apt to judge them because of their color. This book brings to light how the blues got started highlighting names like Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Chuck Berry and Etta James. It is also a forbidden love story of a Jewish woman and a black man and the painful stigma of being ostracized by society and their struggles to survive in a biased world. Well researched and beautifully written, this story moved me and I found it a very enjoyable book. Another pleasurable book by Renee Rosen. Well done.

  • Viviane Crystal
    2019-04-28 14:45

    Leeba Groski, daughter of immigrant Polish Jews, becomes a filer and receptionist for a new record company in Chicago, Illinois, in the post-WWII years. She’s working for Leonard and Evelyn, mismatched partners who are spotlighting new talent in music specifically catering to colored (word used appropriately for that time) folks. The business collapses and a fluke accident enables Leonard and his brother to open a new music production company (the Chess brothers). Leeba or Leah as she renames herself very slowly evolves into a fine writer for blues musicians. Red Dupree (Jimmy Rogers in real life), a young black man, has come to Chicago to make his mark as an electric guitarist initially and then to write and have his music produced. Acknowledged as a superb guitarist, he fails to get a contract for his own compositions. However, after tremendous struggles, he gets hired as a band member for the notable “Muddy Waters,” and their music takes off. Leah, Leonard and Phil make new friends and business contacts whom they will sign on as future “blues” stars. However, the equally dominant story behind the music concerns the virulent storm created by the fiery love, romance and marriage of Red Dupree and Leah. They become part of the Freedom Riders movement and ultimately the Civil Rights Movement created by Dr. Martin Luther King. The majority of this fine novel contains a constant tension lowered at just the right moments with the magic of creating and playing music, as well as the passionate love and troubles of Red and Leah. Out of the suffering of racial prejudice arises a vibrant “sound” that changed the course of American history! Finely crafted historical fiction, Renee Rosen!