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Last Dance on the Starlight Pier

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Set during the Great Depression, Sarah Bird's Last Dance on the Starlight Pier is a novel about one woman—and a nation—struggling to be reborn from the ashes. July 3. 1932. Shivering and in shock, Evie Grace Devlin watches the Starlite Palace burn into the sea and wonders how she became a person who would cause a man to kill himself. She’d come to Galveston to escape a dark Set during the Great Depression, Sarah Bird's Last Dance on the Starlight Pier is a novel about one woman—and a nation—struggling to be reborn from the ashes. July 3. 1932. Shivering and in shock, Evie Grace Devlin watches the Starlite Palace burn into the sea and wonders how she became a person who would cause a man to kill himself. She’d come to Galveston to escape a dark past in vaudeville and become a good person, a nurse. When that dream is cruelly thwarted, Evie is swept into the alien world of dance marathons. All that she has been denied—a family, a purpose, even love—waits for her there in the place she dreads most: the spotlight. Last Dance on the Starlight Pier is a sweeping novel that brings to spectacular life the enthralling worlds of both dance marathons and the family-run empire of vice that was Galveston in the Thirties. Unforgettable characters tell a story that is still deeply resonant today as America learns what Evie learns, that there truly isn’t anything this country can’t do when we do it together. That indomitable spirit powers a story that is a testament to the deep well of resilience in us all that allows us to not only survive the hardest of hard times, but to find joy, friends, and even family, in them.


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Set during the Great Depression, Sarah Bird's Last Dance on the Starlight Pier is a novel about one woman—and a nation—struggling to be reborn from the ashes. July 3. 1932. Shivering and in shock, Evie Grace Devlin watches the Starlite Palace burn into the sea and wonders how she became a person who would cause a man to kill himself. She’d come to Galveston to escape a dark Set during the Great Depression, Sarah Bird's Last Dance on the Starlight Pier is a novel about one woman—and a nation—struggling to be reborn from the ashes. July 3. 1932. Shivering and in shock, Evie Grace Devlin watches the Starlite Palace burn into the sea and wonders how she became a person who would cause a man to kill himself. She’d come to Galveston to escape a dark past in vaudeville and become a good person, a nurse. When that dream is cruelly thwarted, Evie is swept into the alien world of dance marathons. All that she has been denied—a family, a purpose, even love—waits for her there in the place she dreads most: the spotlight. Last Dance on the Starlight Pier is a sweeping novel that brings to spectacular life the enthralling worlds of both dance marathons and the family-run empire of vice that was Galveston in the Thirties. Unforgettable characters tell a story that is still deeply resonant today as America learns what Evie learns, that there truly isn’t anything this country can’t do when we do it together. That indomitable spirit powers a story that is a testament to the deep well of resilience in us all that allows us to not only survive the hardest of hard times, but to find joy, friends, and even family, in them.

30 review for Last Dance on the Starlight Pier

  1. 5 out of 5

    MarilynW

    Last Dance on the Starlight Pier by Sarah Bird Evie Grace Devlin had a sad upbringing. After her beloved father died when she was young, Evie was left at the mercy of a cruel, heartless mother. Her parents had made their living through vaudeville performances and once Evie's dad was dead her mother used Evie almost with no restrictions on what Evie was asked to do. If it brought in money, mom was happy to push Evie into darker performances. At seventeen Evie breaks away and excels at three years Last Dance on the Starlight Pier by Sarah Bird Evie Grace Devlin had a sad upbringing. After her beloved father died when she was young, Evie was left at the mercy of a cruel, heartless mother. Her parents had made their living through vaudeville performances and once Evie's dad was dead her mother used Evie almost with no restrictions on what Evie was asked to do. If it brought in money, mom was happy to push Evie into darker performances. At seventeen Evie breaks away and excels at three years of nursing school, in Galveston, only to have her success pulled out from under her on the day of her nursing school graduation. At this point, I feel that Evie had enough confidence building success and time away from her brutally abusive mother that she wouldn't choose crawling back to her mother as her only option but that's what Evie does. Thank goodness, once she's back in Houston, rather than finding her mother, she finds work as a nurse for a dance marathon outfit. Not only does Evie work as a nurse but also fills in as a dancer. This is 1932 and dance marathons were the rage. The marathons provided food, shelter, and cash prizes in a time when so many people were suffering from few ways to survive during the hard times. I had no idea of the hardships involved in dance marathoning and how much a nurse would be needed to keep contestants on their feet. Dance marathoning was no walk in the park! As much as I wished the best for Evie, I had trouble staying with the story. Evie makes such rash and unwise decisions that I just stopped caring what would happen next. There is too much to the story, too many characters who come and go, too many things going on, and once again, Evie making decisions that are wrong headed and confounding to me. This book did have me looking further into the dance marathons of the past, which I enjoyed. Publication: April 12, 2022 Thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for this ARC.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Terrie Robinson

    "Last Dance on the Starlight Pier" by Sarah Bird is a story that begins at the end! Seventeen-year-old Evie Grace Devlin has aspirations of becoming a nurse. Full of hope, she travels to Galveston, TX to realize her dream. After three years of being at the top of her class in nursing school, she's expelled when pictures of her dark past surface on graduation day. Evie eventually hooks up with a dance marathon, first as a nurse, and, as time moves on, as the partner of the star dancer, Zave. She's "Last Dance on the Starlight Pier" by Sarah Bird is a story that begins at the end! Seventeen-year-old Evie Grace Devlin has aspirations of becoming a nurse. Full of hope, she travels to Galveston, TX to realize her dream. After three years of being at the top of her class in nursing school, she's expelled when pictures of her dark past surface on graduation day. Evie eventually hooks up with a dance marathon, first as a nurse, and, as time moves on, as the partner of the star dancer, Zave. She's taken by his handsome looks and kind nature. It feels comforting being part of this dance marathon. Is this her new future? Is Zave her future, too? The common threads in this book are the struggles of the Depression and dance marathons that take place during this time period. The best working wage in 1932 is fifty-cents a day, if you can find work. As a marathon dancer you have three meals a day, a bed to sleep on for 15 minutes intervals, and the 'dangling carrot' of a cash prize. A very appealing option when the other side is homelessness. What I like about this story are the two main characters of Evie and Zane. They both kept me reading when, more than once, I thought of stopping. I also enjoyed the historical aspects of the story and the quirkiness of the secondary characters. The author does a great job with character development and back stories. What I didn't like was the length of this book. At over 400 pages, it's simply too long and with additional editing it would keep the story fresher, faster and without repetition. Thank you to NetGalley, St. Martin's Press, and Sarah Bird for a free ARC of this book. It has been an honor to give my honest and voluntary review. This book is now available.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    3.5 stars, rounded up I was very impressed with Sarah Bird’s Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen. So, I was anxious to see how she would do with her latest, Last Dance on the Starlight Pier. Once again, she has placed us firmly in the time and place of the story. Here, it’s the Depression and the dance marathons that provided a source of entertainment and a means to earn some money. My one memory concerning dance marathons was the movie, “They Shoot Horses Don’t They?” This captures the same helple 3.5 stars, rounded up I was very impressed with Sarah Bird’s Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen. So, I was anxious to see how she would do with her latest, Last Dance on the Starlight Pier. Once again, she has placed us firmly in the time and place of the story. Here, it’s the Depression and the dance marathons that provided a source of entertainment and a means to earn some money. My one memory concerning dance marathons was the movie, “They Shoot Horses Don’t They?” This captures the same helplessness on the written page. Bird does a great job highlighting the issues of the day, including the political situation, contrasting Hoover and FDR. Evie Grace Devlin had high hopes of escaping her checkered past and becoming a nurse. But it wasn’t meant to be and through a series of events she’s working as a “nurse” for a dance marathon. Then, she ends up actually dancing and becoming a star in one. I quickly became engaged with Evie’s story and anxious to see how it would play out. We are told at the beginning that the Starlight Pier burns. So, as the story got closer to the end, I knew things wouldn’t end well for everyone. Bird does a good job of providing a sense of tension as the story reaches its conclusion. Bird broadens the story by highlighting some different social issues and delving into the possible “medical treatments” of the day. This was entertaining, but delved more into soap opera territory than I would have liked. My thanks to Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press for an advance copy of this book.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Amy J

    ** IT IS PUBLICATION DAY ** Interesting story of the Great Depression dance marathons. The novel centers around the dance marathons prominent for entertainment during the Great Depression. The story takes place in Galveston and Chicago. Evie Devlin is a student nurse that is needing to overcome many hardships in her life. She joins with a dance marathon to practice her nursing skills, only to be paired with the show's star -- Zave. From there she is whisked onto the dance floor. Will there be lov ** IT IS PUBLICATION DAY ** Interesting story of the Great Depression dance marathons. The novel centers around the dance marathons prominent for entertainment during the Great Depression. The story takes place in Galveston and Chicago. Evie Devlin is a student nurse that is needing to overcome many hardships in her life. She joins with a dance marathon to practice her nursing skills, only to be paired with the show's star -- Zave. From there she is whisked onto the dance floor. Will there be love? Or will there be more heartache for the pair? Most stories from this era focus on the farm and the Dust Bowl.. It is refreshing to hear of another facet of that era. The dance marathons during that time were endurance events for the dancers and provided cheap entertainment for the attendees. Ms. Bird weaves interesting characters into the setting and brings up some of the social issues of the time. You will be cheering for Evie as she tries to overcome the heartache from her early life. If you are looking for a historical fiction story that has good character development and a unique backdrop, this book is for you. If you are looking for a sappy romance, you may need to pick another novel. Thank you to the publisher and Net Galley for the opportunity to review this book.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader

    I gave Sarah Bird’s Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen five stars when I read it four years ago. I have been eagerly awaiting a new book from her and Last Dance on the Starlight Pier did not disappoint. About the book: “Last Dance on the Starlight Pier is a sweeping novel that brings to spectacular life the enthralling worlds of both dance marathons and the family-run empire of vice that was Galveston in the Thirties.” My grandparents were around for part of the Great Depression, and I seek out boo I gave Sarah Bird’s Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen five stars when I read it four years ago. I have been eagerly awaiting a new book from her and Last Dance on the Starlight Pier did not disappoint. About the book: “Last Dance on the Starlight Pier is a sweeping novel that brings to spectacular life the enthralling worlds of both dance marathons and the family-run empire of vice that was Galveston in the Thirties.” My grandparents were around for part of the Great Depression, and I seek out books set during this time for more understanding of what their lives may have been like. As someone who loves to dance, with a father who also loved to dance, the dance marathon angle for this story was absolutely fascinating and fun. I also had no idea about Galveston’s history during the Depression. Evie is only seventeen when the story begins. She wants to become a nurse and finds a job working at a dance marathon. Eventually she becomes a dancer and has a partner named Zave. The marathons offer solid work, but it can be grueling. I enjoyed the well-developed characters in the story, and as I mentioned the setting and time period with the dancing backdrop. The Great Depression was a desperate time for many, and the exploration of Evie’s character followed her path, ardently seeking a way to survive the hardships she was experiencing. Her path wasn’t linear, and she was living and working in a seedy underbelly. The story felt like an adventure, which I always find enjoyable. Overall I found this memorable due to its characters and all I learned about this place and time in history. I received a gifted copy. Many of my reviews can also be found on my blog: www.jennifertarheelreader.com and instagram: www.instagram.com/tarheelreader

  6. 4 out of 5

    DeAnn

    3.5 marathon stars This sweeping historical fiction novel is set during the depression and features Evie, a young woman who started life as a dancer, following in her parents’ footsteps. She sets her sights on getting a nursing license to escape that life and make her way in the world. She’s working on a three-year nursing program in Galveston. Her past comes back to haunt her though and she’s forced back into the dancing world, this time with a promoter of dance marathons. She meets some interest 3.5 marathon stars This sweeping historical fiction novel is set during the depression and features Evie, a young woman who started life as a dancer, following in her parents’ footsteps. She sets her sights on getting a nursing license to escape that life and make her way in the world. She’s working on a three-year nursing program in Galveston. Her past comes back to haunt her though and she’s forced back into the dancing world, this time with a promoter of dance marathons. She meets some interesting people in this group, including the star dancer Zave, and wonders if this is where she was meant to make a life. Along the way we get glimpses of her past and the hardships she’s had to overcome. Her mother is quite a piece of work! Filled with tough times, speakeasies, Hoovervilles, and resilient people, this one shows a little different side of the times. I really wanted to love this one, but I just wasn’t connected to the characters and some of Evie’s choices really made me scratch my head in wonder! I would not describe this as a love story, more of a character-driven historical fiction novel. Thank you to St. Martin's Press for the early copy to read and review.

  7. 4 out of 5

    L.A.

    Watching and reading about the huge dance marathons during the 20 & 30's, is fascinating. A time period right after the roaring 20's that was full of happiness and liveliness, comes a bleak time of unsurety, the Crash of '29. Some people stood in long lines for food and others became creative and desperate to dance their days away at dance marathons for food and cash. Some towns banned them considering it disrespectful and disruptive behavior, but the endurance of these dancers gave hope to othe Watching and reading about the huge dance marathons during the 20 & 30's, is fascinating. A time period right after the roaring 20's that was full of happiness and liveliness, comes a bleak time of unsurety, the Crash of '29. Some people stood in long lines for food and others became creative and desperate to dance their days away at dance marathons for food and cash. Some towns banned them considering it disrespectful and disruptive behavior, but the endurance of these dancers gave hope to others. You were at least guaranteed 3 healthy meals a day and were able to sleep 15 min of every hour......No thanks... First chapter begins with 1932, a tragic fire at the Starlite Palace. Revealing a loss of one of the characters, you feel a drive to learn about their struggles and the truth of what happened. Traveling back to 3 years before the fire, reveals the spark Evie had to rid of her dark past with her vaudeville parents. She wants to be a nurse, find love and have a real family. She applies to nursing school which ends abruptly and in order to survive she fakes her career and becomes a nurse for a dance marathon, family-run empire. Evie meets and falls in love with Zave, the heart throb of the dance floor. Coincidently, he knew her father that saved him from his abusive dad and hired him for the road shows. These were troubled times and hearts with the country at its lowest and disparagement among the people. This book shows the care and compassion of America as people struggled. There were those that gave purpose to others and lent a helping hand. If you are looking for a love story, this is not a choice to consider. It is more about the time period. If you have seen the 1969 movie "They Shoot Horses, Don't they?", starring Jane Fonda and Michael Sarrazin, it will give you an advantage over the book. It details the competition of how dancers survived hundreds, even thousands of hours with only a few to finish with the prize money. Eventually, these contests faded in the late 30's due to World War II which dancers and their audiences found themselves going to war. Thanks NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for the opportunity to read this ARc in exchange for my honest review.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    We're all not born with the same dreams. That should give you pause. As personal as our dreams are, they have been dusted with the leaning influence of others. Dreams either catapult you into the next universe of I-can-do-anything or bring you up by the collar of not-gonna-happen. Complicated visions upon complicated realities. Sarah Bird takes us to a time during the Great Depression where people held onto their nickels or invented new ways to grab a nickel. Dance Marathons did just that. Competi We're all not born with the same dreams. That should give you pause. As personal as our dreams are, they have been dusted with the leaning influence of others. Dreams either catapult you into the next universe of I-can-do-anything or bring you up by the collar of not-gonna-happen. Complicated visions upon complicated realities. Sarah Bird takes us to a time during the Great Depression where people held onto their nickels or invented new ways to grab a nickel. Dance Marathons did just that. Competition for those nickels was cut-throat. People rooted for the underdogs or cunningly wished failure upon one another. If you simply could move your feet to the music for hours and days and secure the attention of the crowd, you might eat the next day. Bird introduces us to Evie Grace Devlin who was at the mercy of her leacherous mother Mamie's dreams. Mamie made a child star of Evie back on the vaudeville stage in Detroit. Although her dancing father, Denny, loved her, he was never in her life long enough to take responsibility. Mamie took Evie back to Houston where Evie ended up eventually in Galveston. Let's just say that Mamie's dream of constantly re-inventing herself rubbed off on Evie. Evie's dream of becoming a nurse wasn't on the horizon. So Evie sent a doctored (Oh, pun intended.) application for a scholarship to a nursing school in Galveston. Evie gets her foot in the door and Sarah Bird creates quite the challenge for Evie there. But fate steps in and Evie is out. Time to re-invent herself, once again, as a nurse monitoring the marathon dancers. This new career takes Evie to Chicago, the Panhandle of Texas, and back to Galveston where she gets involved with the Amadeo crime family. All while two-steppin' as an eventual marathon dancer herself. Save those nickels, Evie. Last Dance on the Starlight Pier was an enjoyable read. My "however" comes with the notion that marathon dancing can only take you so far in a novel. Bird does add a bundle of characters to keep track of and situations occuring through some mindless decisions. Evie's heart was not entirely made out of gold nor were her intentions. I usually love novels set during the Depression with the focus on the resilience of people. Last Dance reveals desperate times with desperate people. Take it out for a spin and see what you think. It's an element of history that's worth a dance step or two. I received a copy of this book through NetGalley for an honest review. My thanks to St. Martin's Press and to Sarah Bird for the opportunity.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Theresa Alan

    During the Great Depression, Evie Grace Devlin hopes to leave her past in vaudeville behind her by becoming a nurse. She trains for three years but is kept from getting “pinned” as an actual nurse because of prejudice and plain mean-spirited villainy. Instead, she uses her training to nurse the contestants who dance pretty much nonstop 24 hours a day. They sleep on the dance floor against their partners. I’d never heard of these sort of dance marathons. I obviously knew how hard the Depression w During the Great Depression, Evie Grace Devlin hopes to leave her past in vaudeville behind her by becoming a nurse. She trains for three years but is kept from getting “pinned” as an actual nurse because of prejudice and plain mean-spirited villainy. Instead, she uses her training to nurse the contestants who dance pretty much nonstop 24 hours a day. They sleep on the dance floor against their partners. I’d never heard of these sort of dance marathons. I obviously knew how hard the Depression was on a great many people, but it’s still difficult to read about folks who were already poor that were particularly hard hit by the economic downturn. Having them ruin their health for a few coins so they could entertain the masses—it’s ghastly. What’s harder to read about is parents who can’t love their children or choose not to because of their sexual orientation. I guess if you didn’t have access to birth control, some folks who might have chosen otherwise were forced to become parents, but it’s still heartbreaking. Even though there is a lot of sad stuff happening in this historical novel, it’s a different view of this time of history than I was previously familiar with, and I thought it was a compelling read. Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to review this book, which RELEASES APRIL 12, 2022.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Judy

    I had not read any of Sarah Bird's previous books, but I had heard she was an excellent writer so I picked this one up to see for myself. And yes, Bird is a very gifted writer and I was captivated by this novel set in the Great Depression. The writing gave me a feeling like I was there, especially the detailed descriptions of the long dance marathons that went on for extended numbers of days and the dancers slept on their feet. The descriptions of the hopelessness of the people, the political ri I had not read any of Sarah Bird's previous books, but I had heard she was an excellent writer so I picked this one up to see for myself. And yes, Bird is a very gifted writer and I was captivated by this novel set in the Great Depression. The writing gave me a feeling like I was there, especially the detailed descriptions of the long dance marathons that went on for extended numbers of days and the dancers slept on their feet. The descriptions of the hopelessness of the people, the political rivalry between Hoover and FDR, and the Dust Bowl captured the climate of the times. Yet the story is about hope and resilience, and the main character, Evie Grace Devlin exhibits these qualities in spades. She's faced some very tough times and yet looks to a better future and capitalizes on what she can do with what she has available to her. Thanks to St. Martin's Press through Netgalley for an advance copy. This book will be published on April 12, 2022.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Maureen

    This book is set 1930’s during the Great Depression. I enjoyed very much reading about dance marathons. This was a way for people to come together to escape the real world and have an opportunity to have food and shelter and a chance to win cash prizes. All the couples had to do were to dance their hearts out with little rest. Evie Devlin was a child of vaudeville parents. She wanted to have a better life. She wanted to be a nurse. She entered a nursing program but when they found out her past sh This book is set 1930’s during the Great Depression. I enjoyed very much reading about dance marathons. This was a way for people to come together to escape the real world and have an opportunity to have food and shelter and a chance to win cash prizes. All the couples had to do were to dance their hearts out with little rest. Evie Devlin was a child of vaudeville parents. She wanted to have a better life. She wanted to be a nurse. She entered a nursing program but when they found out her past she was denied her R.N. pin. She spent three hard years learning to be a good nurse. Evie returns to Houston and is able to become a nurse for a dance marathon company even though she doesn’t have a degree. She treats the dancers for cuts and bruises and swollen ankles. Evie meets Zave the heart throb of the dance marathon. She eventually becomes his dance partner. Evie falls for Zave. She has a one sided love that will never to be. When Evie finds out the truth about Zave she finds a way to have him fixed, by a surgical procedure. This is where the story falls apart for me. Zave doesn’t have an affliction. He is who he is. I think the historical time line in this book is not correct, with the discussion of the surgical procedure. This part of the story in my opinion could have been left out. There could have been a different ending. I did enjoy the history of Dance Marathons very much. My copy of this book was an advanced readers copy with no authors notes. I don’t know the research that went into the story. I received this copy from a Goodreads giveaway promotion.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Marialyce (absltmom, yaya)

    3.5 stars Remembrances of the movie, They Shoot Horses flicked through my mind listening to this one. It is a story of a young girl named Evie Grace Devlin trying to fend for herself in a most difficult world during the Depression. Evie did try to better herself to become something, to become a nurse, but after an even is revealed about her past, that dream goes crashing to the ground. To make a living she gets involved in the world of dance marathons., where much to her amazement she is thrust i 3.5 stars Remembrances of the movie, They Shoot Horses flicked through my mind listening to this one. It is a story of a young girl named Evie Grace Devlin trying to fend for herself in a most difficult world during the Depression. Evie did try to better herself to become something, to become a nurse, but after an even is revealed about her past, that dream goes crashing to the ground. To make a living she gets involved in the world of dance marathons., where much to her amazement she is thrust into a spotlight where she least want to be. Along with her personal story, we are witness to the underworld of Galveston, Texas. As if the way in which she was raised by a cruel and malicious mother was not bad enough, Evie finds the evil in the world of the marathons that are controlled by the the underworld. Unfortunately, with her spirits low and seemingly depressed and deserted, she returns to her mother whom she left at seventeen. She doesn't find her mother but is able to find work as a nurse in the dance marathons in Houston, sometimes even substituting as a dancer. She makes some decisions that had me scratching my head and although I kept rooting for Evie, I had to question why she chose to do the things she did. The interesting things I learned about the past in this story set in 1932, made this a tale that was intriguing. However, there was too much to it, and after awhile it became an exhausting listen. It was a good story but it needed to be shorter and more concise. I was amazed by what people were forced to do to earn a nickel to say alive. Sad but true, we needed a war to end this tragedy. Thank you to Sarah Bird, Cassandra Bird, and NetGalley for the ability to listen to this story before publication which is on April 12, 2022.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Carole

    Last Dance on the Starlight Pier by Sarah Bird provides the reader with a unblinking look at the misery in America during the Great Depression. By the telling of the story of Evie Grace Devlin, the author exposes the hardest of times. Evie had been a very young performer in the days of vaudeville, having been pushed on the stage by an unloving, selfish and abusive mother. When the days of vaudeville began to wane, she worked diligently to become a nurse, only to be sidelined before graduation. B Last Dance on the Starlight Pier by Sarah Bird provides the reader with a unblinking look at the misery in America during the Great Depression. By the telling of the story of Evie Grace Devlin, the author exposes the hardest of times. Evie had been a very young performer in the days of vaudeville, having been pushed on the stage by an unloving, selfish and abusive mother. When the days of vaudeville began to wane, she worked diligently to become a nurse, only to be sidelined before graduation. Because she needed employment and income, she found herself absorbed into the cruel and rough world of dance marathons. I thought Last Dance on the Starlight Pier was well-researched but what kept me from giving it a higher rating was the slow-moving plot. The book begins to drag due to overly long chapters that seem repetitive. However, the characters bring the book to life, providing the reader with a feel for the era. Evie Grace Devlin is a memorable character, someone readers will cheer for. This is my first book by Sarah Bird and I would enjoy reading more. If historical fiction is a favorite genre, you will enjoy this book. Thank you to St. Martin’s Press, NetGalley and the author for the e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Linden

    In the beginning, I enjoyed the story about how Evie, the girl from the wrong side of the tracks, received a scholarship to a prestigious nursing school in the 1920’s. Then it all fell apart and things got ugly, with a flashback to her abused childhood at the hands of her beyond horrible mother. There were a bunch of unlikable characters that I didn’t much care about, and a plot that didn’t hold my interest. Even the history was disappointing, since one of my pet peeves is inaccurate or poorly-r In the beginning, I enjoyed the story about how Evie, the girl from the wrong side of the tracks, received a scholarship to a prestigious nursing school in the 1920’s. Then it all fell apart and things got ugly, with a flashback to her abused childhood at the hands of her beyond horrible mother. There were a bunch of unlikable characters that I didn’t much care about, and a plot that didn’t hold my interest. Even the history was disappointing, since one of my pet peeves is inaccurate or poorly-researched historical fiction. At one point, someone demands, “Pull up at the Texaco station,” and Evie says they drove in when she “caught sight of a red Pegasus at the station.” Texaco’s symbol is a star; Mobil is the gas station with Pegasus. This novel was a definitely a big disappointment. I received an advance copy from the publisher and Edelweiss.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews

    From Vaudeville to nursing school and then back again. Who had the nerve to send information about Evie’s previous life to the nursing administrator who didn’t like her from the beginning and wouldn’t give Evie her well-earned and well-deserved nursing pin. She wouldn’t be able to be a nurse without that pin proving she was a registered nurse. Now what is she going to do since her mother would gloat if she returned home. She went to her Uncle’s and finds he now has a dance marathon in the same bui From Vaudeville to nursing school and then back again. Who had the nerve to send information about Evie’s previous life to the nursing administrator who didn’t like her from the beginning and wouldn’t give Evie her well-earned and well-deserved nursing pin. She wouldn’t be able to be a nurse without that pin proving she was a registered nurse. Now what is she going to do since her mother would gloat if she returned home. She went to her Uncle’s and finds he now has a dance marathon in the same building where she used to teach children to dance. What fun to learn about these dance marathons during the 1920s and 1930s. It was a bit dangerous, though, because the owners had to deal with unsavory characters. We follow Evie as she uses her nursing skills to save people at the dance marathons and to try to get her nursing pin back. It wasn't her dream to take care of dancers instead of patients in hospitals, but at least she was being a nurse. We also see how people had to live during the depression. The book was fun with lovable, but sad Evie who always had some problem. She had a hard life. She did show us that you can overcome hardships and that family and friends are the most important part of our lives. Most of the book was about the dance marathons and prohibition. I loved learning about the silver showers at the marathons and was a bit shocked how the dancers had to dance with only short breaks and no sleep. LAST DANCE ON THE STARLIGHT PIER was different and well researched, but was a bit long. 4/5 This book was given to me by the publisher via NetGalley for an honest review.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Donna Davis

    I’ve been a big fan of Sarah Bird’s historical fiction since I read Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen, which was published in 2018. When I saw that she had a new book coming out, I was excited and couldn’t wait to start reading it. My thanks go to Net Galley and St. Martin’s Press for the review copy, and McMillan Audio for the recording. This book is for sale now. Our protagonist is Evie Devlin; the setting is in Texas during the Great Depression. This is a time before government relief exists. I’ve been a big fan of Sarah Bird’s historical fiction since I read Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen, which was published in 2018. When I saw that she had a new book coming out, I was excited and couldn’t wait to start reading it. My thanks go to Net Galley and St. Martin’s Press for the review copy, and McMillan Audio for the recording. This book is for sale now. Our protagonist is Evie Devlin; the setting is in Texas during the Great Depression. This is a time before government relief exists. Jobs for capable men are scarce, and for women, nearly nonexistent. Evie’s father is dead, and her mother has let her know that she won’t support her efforts to become a nurse. When hard work and determination land her a scholarship, Evie is over the moon, and she makes her way to St. Mary’s School of Nursing in Galveston. The director is not happy to see her; she disapproves of scholarship girls in general—a low class of girls, she believes—and in particular, a Protestant one! What is this world coming to? However, Sofia Amadeo likes Evie, and she wants her admitted, and since the Amadeo family’s money and power drive absolutely everything in Galveston, the director is forced to let Evie in. She and Sofie become roommates first, and then the closest of friends. We follow Evie through nursing school, but on graduation day, she hits a snag and is sent away without her pin, which is the equivalent of a license to practice. Now homeless and nearly penniless, Evie is adrift, until she learns about the dance-a-thons that feature cash prizes. She was forced to dance for money as a small child and doesn’t care to do so again, but when she sees what passes for a nurse in the show—basically someone off the street recruited to play the role of nurse, but with no training of any kind—she persuades the manager to hire her instead. From there, romance and all sorts of other entanglements and complications ensue. For roughly the first eighty percent of the book, I am enthralled. The plot is fascinating, the historical accuracy commendable. Soon this becomes my favorite galley. And this is why I feel such a colossal sense of disappointment, almost a sense of betrayal, in fact, when the ending is cobbled together with feel-good revisionism and wishful thinking. Without going into spoilerish detail, a member of an oppressed minority becomes Evie’s focus, and suddenly we roam so far from the historical truth that we never find our way back again. And make no mistake: the actual truth is ugly. But if you’re going to write in the kitchen, you have to be able to bear the heat. Or, something like that. Sarah Bird is a badass writer. Just reading her figurative language alone gives me joy, and I am hoping fervently that this bizarre departure is an anomaly. I look forward to seeing what she writes next. As for the audio, Cassandra Campbell does a serviceable job, though the Italian accent sounds a bit like Dracula. This is a common issue, I find, and so I’m not terribly concerned about this aspect. Everything else she does is right on point. If you are going to read this book—which, sadly, I cannot recommend—I’d say it’s a toss up as to audio versus print. Go with whatever you’re most comfortable with, but do it free or cheap if you decide to acquire it.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kasa Cotugno

    It's the early 1930's, the eve of the FDR era, and in a country with more similarities to present day than one would think, desperate hopefuls are participating in punishing dance marathons just to get by. Elvie Devlin, a victim of circumstance on many levels who only wants to gain status as a registered nurse, finds herself caught up in this world, and tells her story against the background of Galveston Texas. I've loved Sarah Bird's writing for years, and here she shows her hand in writing abo It's the early 1930's, the eve of the FDR era, and in a country with more similarities to present day than one would think, desperate hopefuls are participating in punishing dance marathons just to get by. Elvie Devlin, a victim of circumstance on many levels who only wants to gain status as a registered nurse, finds herself caught up in this world, and tells her story against the background of Galveston Texas. I've loved Sarah Bird's writing for years, and here she shows her hand in writing about a part of her beloved state unexplored before, bringing to life the era, the people. Loved it.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sally Hanan

    I loved this book up until the last few pages. The book is really well written, with beautiful descriptions of nature and people. Bird is able to capture people's personalities really well, so you almost know in advance how a character will respond to an event because you can see them in your mind so clearly. the historical details are included beautifully too, with no info dumps other than one long speech. The book moves quickly from one happening to the next, with lots of obstacles put in the wa I loved this book up until the last few pages. The book is really well written, with beautiful descriptions of nature and people. Bird is able to capture people's personalities really well, so you almost know in advance how a character will respond to an event because you can see them in your mind so clearly. the historical details are included beautifully too, with no info dumps other than one long speech. The book moves quickly from one happening to the next, with lots of obstacles put in the way of our heroine. And then we come to the end. I was so, so disappointed with the attempt at a HEA that would never in a million, trillion years have played out the way it did. We're talking about culture in the '30s, not the 2000s, for goodness sake! So yeah, read it for the gorgeous writing, but don't read it if you expect a realistic ending.

  19. 4 out of 5

    ʚϊɞ Shelley's ʚϊɞ Book Nook

    3.5 Stars I really enjoyed this story of dance marathons during the depression. I loved the feeling of time and place, both in Chicago and Houston, the descriptions were very well done. I really appreciated the romantic side of the story, even if it was only one way. It was sweet without being saccharine and it didn't take over the entire plot. I liked learning about The Great Depression itself as well, usually it's all about The Dust Bowl so I found this to be very unique that way. This book is 3.5 Stars I really enjoyed this story of dance marathons during the depression. I loved the feeling of time and place, both in Chicago and Houston, the descriptions were very well done. I really appreciated the romantic side of the story, even if it was only one way. It was sweet without being saccharine and it didn't take over the entire plot. I liked learning about The Great Depression itself as well, usually it's all about The Dust Bowl so I found this to be very unique that way. This book is such a refreshing take on that time in history. I did find that there were a lot of minor characters that we don't learn enough about and I found that very frustrating. But the story sucked me in, I did care for the main characters and the writing style was one I really loved and i would read this author again...so I am rounding up. With many thanks to NetGalley, Sarah Bird and St. Martin's Press for the giving of the ARC.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Nancy (Trying to catch up with reviews)

    What I love about historical fiction is learning something new. I was not familiar with the dance marathons that took place in the 1930s during the Great Depression which is why I chose to read this novel. Well, that, the title and the lovely cover. The Last Dance on the Starlight Pier starts with Evie Grace Devlin watching the Starlight Palace go up in flames. At this point, she has no idea what has happened to her dance partner, Zane. From there, the book shows Evie's years in Galveston trying What I love about historical fiction is learning something new. I was not familiar with the dance marathons that took place in the 1930s during the Great Depression which is why I chose to read this novel. Well, that, the title and the lovely cover. The Last Dance on the Starlight Pier starts with Evie Grace Devlin watching the Starlight Palace go up in flames. At this point, she has no idea what has happened to her dance partner, Zane. From there, the book shows Evie's years in Galveston trying to become a nurse and leave her sordid vaudeville history in the past. When Evie's dream of becoming a nurse get hindered, she becomes involved in the bizarre world of dance marathons. We also get to learn about her past time in vaudeville and her evil mother, Mamie. I loved Evie, Zane, and Sophie. Evie's strong will and determination won me over. Mamie was a very well written villain, one that is easy to despise. I also really enjoyed reading about the dance marathons. What a crazy way to make a living, dancing nonstop with only 15 minute intervals to rest, with the hope of winning the prize at the end. While I found this story interesting and enjoyable, I felt like the book could have been trimmed a bit since I found myself skimming in parts. Overall, 3 stars. Many thanks to NetGalley, St. Martin's Press, and Sarah Bird for an eARC.

  21. 4 out of 5

    KarenK2

    I received this from Netgalley.com. Set on Galveston Island, 1932. The story shifts back and forth over a few years as we are told Evie's life story. The history is interesting but I never connected with the characters. The story is told in long drawn-out fragments and could maybe suffer through another editing. 2.25☆ I received this from Netgalley.com. Set on Galveston Island, 1932. The story shifts back and forth over a few years as we are told Evie's life story. The history is interesting but I never connected with the characters. The story is told in long drawn-out fragments and could maybe suffer through another editing. 2.25☆

  22. 5 out of 5

    Shirley McAllister

    Nurse Gravy An amazing story set during the great depression. A young girl exploited into vaudeville by her mother, wins a scholarship to nursing school. All she wants is to be a nurse and take care of sick people. When graduation comes the director refuses to give her certification because someone sent her the vaudeville pictures of Evie. Evie is devastated and goes to her Uncle Jake for help. He finds her a job as a nurse at a dance marathon even though she does not have her certification. She m Nurse Gravy An amazing story set during the great depression. A young girl exploited into vaudeville by her mother, wins a scholarship to nursing school. All she wants is to be a nurse and take care of sick people. When graduation comes the director refuses to give her certification because someone sent her the vaudeville pictures of Evie. Evie is devastated and goes to her Uncle Jake for help. He finds her a job as a nurse at a dance marathon even though she does not have her certification. She meets Zave one of the dancers and finds that he danced with her father. In the dance marathon and with the dancers and Zave she finds the family she never had. Her best friend Sofie from nursing school is also in Galveston and helps her all she can. As she is carried farther into the world of the dance marathon she makes an error in judgment that may well have caused her friend to take his own life. Can she right this mistake and will she ever earn her certification as a nurse? This is a heartwarming and heartbreaking story of those just trying to survive the depression any way they can. It's a story of dance marathons, moonshine, dust storms and the election of FDR. I enjoyed this book from beginning to end and I would recommend it. Thanks to Sarah Bird for writing such a wonderful story, to Saint Martin's press for publishing it and to NetGalley for making it available to me to read and review. All words are my own.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Celia

    Prepare yourself for a historical adventure trip that takes you from Galveston, Houston, Northern Texas, Chicago and back to Galveston again. Evie Grace Devlin, whose hateful mother exploited her as a vaudeville star, has finally broken loose. Evie has won a scholarship to a nursing school and off she goes. Galveston - nursing school for Evie. Friendship with Sofie, whose family 'runs' Galveston. Evie excels in her studies but does not get her pin. Houston - she decides to return to Houston and Mo Prepare yourself for a historical adventure trip that takes you from Galveston, Houston, Northern Texas, Chicago and back to Galveston again. Evie Grace Devlin, whose hateful mother exploited her as a vaudeville star, has finally broken loose. Evie has won a scholarship to a nursing school and off she goes. Galveston - nursing school for Evie. Friendship with Sofie, whose family 'runs' Galveston. Evie excels in her studies but does not get her pin. Houston - she decides to return to Houston and Mother Mamie, even though it will be painful. Before that happens, she finds Jake, an old friend from Vaudeville who is involved with the marathon dance craze. Evie gets hired as a nurse. The dancers are on their feet 3/4 of the day and night and need TLC. Litchfield- we meet her grandmother who is suffering because of the effects of dust storms. Chicago- Al Capone reigns. More marathon dancing. Galveston-the troupe moves to Galveston and situates itself on the Starlite Pier in the renovated Starlite Palace. Along the way, Evie meets Zave, handsome, charismatic Zave. I have left a lot of the action out; I want you to read this engaging story and find out for yourself. 5 stars

  24. 5 out of 5

    Shannon

    4.5 This is a sweeping historical fiction book set in Depression era America that gives insight into a part of that time few people really talk about. How dances and entertainers still flourished and helped keep spirits up during an incredibly difficult time. In this story we come to learn all about a travelling dance troupe, that went around the country putting on what were essentially shows under the guise of dance marathons. For a small admission fee people could come watch or participate in w 4.5 This is a sweeping historical fiction book set in Depression era America that gives insight into a part of that time few people really talk about. How dances and entertainers still flourished and helped keep spirits up during an incredibly difficult time. In this story we come to learn all about a travelling dance troupe, that went around the country putting on what were essentially shows under the guise of dance marathons. For a small admission fee people could come watch or participate in what could be days long dance offs with the last couple standing winning. Think of that episode from The Gilmore Girls but much more extreme! But along with the good, there is also a rise in criminal activity and we get a glimpse of that in this story too in a family of Gangsters living in Galveston, Texas. What I loved about this book was the rich characterization! We get to know these characters as deeply flawed individuals just trying to survive in a world that doesn't always want them. Told from Evie Grace Devlin's perspective, a young woman escaping a dark past, who wants nothing more than to earn her Nurse's pin. When Evie gets caught up with a travelling dance troupe she makes new friends, falls in love and has the adventure of a lifetime. I absolutely loved her relationship with the star of the show and his storyline was deeply moving. A gay man who is not able to be out openly and is even told he needs to try this new conversion treatment, "the lobotomy" in an attempt to "cure" him. Perfect for fans of The four winds by Kristin Hannah and great on audio narrated by Cassandra Campbell. This is one that is going to stick with me for a long while after I finished. Much thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for my advance review copies!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Aiello

    The more I read historical fiction, the more I realize that I really enjoy these stories. Seeing how things were (and realizing I would have NEVER survived back in the day) and contrasting it with how things are today and how eerily similar some things are. I was thoroughly immersed in this storyline. I never knew the history of dance marathons. While I'm sure there was creative license taken, it's just a fascinating subject and it was so well done that I felt like I was right there with Evie, S The more I read historical fiction, the more I realize that I really enjoy these stories. Seeing how things were (and realizing I would have NEVER survived back in the day) and contrasting it with how things are today and how eerily similar some things are. I was thoroughly immersed in this storyline. I never knew the history of dance marathons. While I'm sure there was creative license taken, it's just a fascinating subject and it was so well done that I felt like I was right there with Evie, Save and their merry band of marathoners and other characters.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Trisha

    This book was so fascinating! I don't read a lot of books set during the great depression or about dance-athons. I know very little about both so I loved and appreciated the author embracing both and really giving us an inside look. I could feel both the political climate and a bit of menace in the air that went so well with the odd partying and dancing of a dance-off. The main character was odd but I did like her. I'm so glad I gave this one a chance, I really liked it! A huge thank you to the a This book was so fascinating! I don't read a lot of books set during the great depression or about dance-athons. I know very little about both so I loved and appreciated the author embracing both and really giving us an inside look. I could feel both the political climate and a bit of menace in the air that went so well with the odd partying and dancing of a dance-off. The main character was odd but I did like her. I'm so glad I gave this one a chance, I really liked it! A huge thank you to the author and publisher for providing an e-ARC via Netgalley. This does not affect my opinion regarding the book.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Molly

    LAST DANCE ON THE STARLIGHT PIER Depression Era story about Evie Grace Devlin, daughter of a vaudeville family, who strives to improve her life through training to become a Registered Nurse. Set mainly in Galveston and Chicago, her plans are interrupted and she finds herself back in the spotlight as she joins up with a dance marathon troupe. This book involves many personal, sexual, and family issues. Also touched upon are medical and political topics, poverty, desperation, organized crime, and th LAST DANCE ON THE STARLIGHT PIER Depression Era story about Evie Grace Devlin, daughter of a vaudeville family, who strives to improve her life through training to become a Registered Nurse. Set mainly in Galveston and Chicago, her plans are interrupted and she finds herself back in the spotlight as she joins up with a dance marathon troupe. This book involves many personal, sexual, and family issues. Also touched upon are medical and political topics, poverty, desperation, organized crime, and the importance of belonging. I enjoyed the historical information, especially the details of the rough existence as a marathon dancer and the backstage machinations of show business. I felt that some of the more complex and heavier topics were presented a little too casually and left me feeling a bit uncomfortable. I admired Evie’s growth and development throughout the story, although the road was a little rough. I would like to thank NetGalley, Sarah Bird, and St. Martin’s Press for the opportunity to read and review this book.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    I wanted to like this book. But I also wanted it to be interesting. We don't always get what we want. The most I had ever heard about dance marathons game from Gilmore Girls episode where they did one in Stars Hollow. So basically, I knew nothing about them. I thought it would be an interesting topic and take on a historical novel set in the time of the depression. This just isn't something that is regularly talked about from that time period, and I think it had the potential to be GREAT. Instead I wanted to like this book. But I also wanted it to be interesting. We don't always get what we want. The most I had ever heard about dance marathons game from Gilmore Girls episode where they did one in Stars Hollow. So basically, I knew nothing about them. I thought it would be an interesting topic and take on a historical novel set in the time of the depression. This just isn't something that is regularly talked about from that time period, and I think it had the potential to be GREAT. Instead it was SO BORING and so full of political agendas. Like today's political agendas as much as the time of the depression. I thought because of the topic it would be a lighter take on the time period and not so heavy. But shortly in to the book it brought up WAY under age dancing at burlesque shows, pedophilia, then it led in to genderism (agreed that was an issue) and curing homosexuality, plus the political talks of President Herbert Hoover. It was just a lot of agendas thrown in. And maybe its the time of my life or the season of our own pop and political culture that I just don't want to "escape" into another heavily issued book. Plus, did I mention it was boring. So I made it to 75% and skimmed the rest. Because honestly I didn't care, and I figured I already knew what was going to happen. And spoiler alert: I was right in having it figured out. So 2 stars felt quite generous. **Thank you netgalley and the publisher for an advanced reader copy. My opinion is my own.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Zoe

    Hopeful, heartwarming, and atmospheric! Last Dance on the Starlight Pier is an intriguing tale that sweeps you away between Chicago and Texas during the early 1930s and into the life of Evie Grace Devlin, a young woman who yearns to become a registered nurse, but who after her past as a Vaudeville performer comes to light and she is denied graduation, ends up in the world of competitive dance competitions until tragedy strikes, and she must rethink what’s truly important and where, what and who s Hopeful, heartwarming, and atmospheric! Last Dance on the Starlight Pier is an intriguing tale that sweeps you away between Chicago and Texas during the early 1930s and into the life of Evie Grace Devlin, a young woman who yearns to become a registered nurse, but who after her past as a Vaudeville performer comes to light and she is denied graduation, ends up in the world of competitive dance competitions until tragedy strikes, and she must rethink what’s truly important and where, what and who she’d truly like to be. The prose is smooth and expressive. The main characters are spirited, resilient, and hardworking. And the plot is a compelling, emotional tale about life, loss, self-discovery, familial drama, social injustices, political unrest, poverty, inequality, heartbreak, courage, romance, and friendship. Overall, Last Dance on the Starlight Pier is a sweet, entertaining, sentimental tale by Bird that was a pleasure to read with a setting I don’t often get a chance to read about and a unique storyline that was informative as well as refreshing. Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for gifting me a copy in exchange for an honest review.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Susan Peterson

    Last Dance on the Starlight Pier features an extraordinary heroine—Evie Grace Devlin. Evie grew up on the vaudeville circuit, and despite all odds earns herself a scholarship at a nursing school, graduates top of her class, but ends up in the seedy world of dance marathons and mobsters. I was enthralled by Evie and her story from the start, always cheering for her to rise above her hardscrabble life. The backdrop of the Depression, the Dust Bowl, and marathons add a sense of desperation, but the Last Dance on the Starlight Pier features an extraordinary heroine—Evie Grace Devlin. Evie grew up on the vaudeville circuit, and despite all odds earns herself a scholarship at a nursing school, graduates top of her class, but ends up in the seedy world of dance marathons and mobsters. I was enthralled by Evie and her story from the start, always cheering for her to rise above her hardscrabble life. The backdrop of the Depression, the Dust Bowl, and marathons add a sense of desperation, but there is always a spark of hope that life will get better, not just for Evie, but for everyone.

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