Review of ‘The Davenports’

Historical fiction at its finest, The Davenports, shows four young women navigating through racism, classism, and romance.

The Davenports follows four young girls – Amy Rose, Olivia, Helen & Ruby – navigating life in 1910 in Chicago, each girl fighting against what society demands of them and their hearts desires.

Incredible Characters

Marquis does an excellent job of capturing the historical atmosphere of Chicago in the early 19th century. This is after slavery, and African-Americans are still reeling. For Olivia and Helen, their father escaped to the North for freedom. He began a carriage business, making a name for himself and becoming one of the most influential businessmen in Chicago, fighting against the racism that still existed.

The Davenports split between four perspectives, telling the story of racism and classism during this social climate. Olivia is the oldest, and the family’s expectations are high for her. Keep her head down and marry a suitable family. But Olivia wants more.

Olivia is drawn to the civil rights movement. Everyone thinks Olivia is just a silly girl only focused on frilly things, But there is so much more to her. She wants to do much more for people like her father and her community. She wants to understand the struggles her father went through. However, her family is more determined to protect and shield her from the past than allow her to contribute meaningfully.

Olivia goes on such an incredible journey to find herself. But, of course, all the girls do, which makes this story extraordinary.

Ruby’s family expects her to marry rich to protect their image of going broke while her father runs for office. This leads her character to come off as shallow and vain. But through her machinations, she falls in love with a biracial man, a man her family looks down upon because his father was a slave owner.

Ruby goes on a journey to discover that there are more important things than money and how society sees her. What does money mean if it makes one unhappy?

Amy-Rose was probably the shining star of the novel. Even though Olivia goes on her journey toward activism, Amy-Rose is an entrepreneur. The daughter of a colored woman and a white man, she has never fit in in either community. But, growing up with the Davenports, she founds a home and began to make her own hair care products. Her dream is to open her own salon for colored women. Even when her dreams seem o crash around her, she latches onto another opportunity. She works hard for her dreams and doesn’t give up. Her resilience is so incredibly captivating.

Final Thoughts

Each character goes on an incredible journey while navigating the tense social climate. And Marquis’s storytelling is fantastic. She captures the time perfectly, highlighting the struggles colored people had even though they had money. In addition, Marquis highlights the efforts biracial people have as well.

The intensity and emotional depth of The Davenports engages the reader. As a result, we’re more invested in characterizations, easily going between perspectives and connecting to the budding romance that drives the characters to fight for what they believe in and be true to themselves.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

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