Friday, June 9, 2023

Did You Hear About Kitty Karr? by Crystal Smith Paul

Rating: 3 of 5 stars 
Pages: 416 pages
Published: May 2023

I did! I heard about Kitty Karr where I hear about a lot of my new reads - from Book of the Month. And I heard from author Crystal Smith Paul as she shared some of her inspiration and research behind the historical fiction novel, Did You Hear About Kitty Karr?, in Book of the Month's podcast, Virtual Book Tour.  

The premise of this book is an interesting one. Kitty Karr, a white actress from the old Hollywood era dies in 2017 and leaves much of her multi-million dollar fortune to three wealthy Black women (the St. John's) prompting speculation all around even from her benefactors. The story vacillates between Kitty's upbringing in the segregated south to her prosperous Hollywood career as an adult and Elise St. John's present-day life as a celebrity. Throughout this 400+ page novel, the reader learns how the two time periods and lives of those around them are intertwined. 

I had high hopes for this book as it was also part of Modern Mrs. Darcy's Book Club's Summer Reading Guide. I really wanted to like this book, and after listening to Paul on the podcast, I was really invested in how she came up with this plot. I had hoped that some of the history she included was fact rather than fiction. The additional background gave the story more depth, but overall I was underwhelmed. The book simply fell flat to me. There were too many characters that were introduced but not needed, and the book was too long. I think the author could have benefited from heavier editing. She even noted in the podcast that she could have lived with these characters for a long time, and the reader can certainly tell that, making the plot weaker. The ending felt rushed, like perhaps she was meeting a deadline, and I was left feeling largely unsatisfied. 

Recommendation: I think Ms. Paul has potential, and I would give her writing another try. She had an intriguing overarching idea, I think she just needs a tighter execution. This one just didn't quite do it for me. 

Until next time ... Read on!

Regardless of whether I purchase a book, borrow a book, or receive a book in exchange for review, my ultimate goal is to be honest, fair, and constructive. I hope you've found this review helpful.


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