Sweet, Soft, Plenty Rhythm Summary and Reviews

Sweet, Soft, Plenty Rhythm

A Novel

by Laura Warrell

Sweet, Soft, Plenty Rhythm by Laura Warrell X
Sweet, Soft, Plenty Rhythm by Laura Warrell
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Book Summary

Passion and risk, fathers and daughters, wives and single women, jazz and soul: a provocative debut novel about the perennial temptations of dangerous love, told by the women who love Circus Palmer—trumpet player and old-school ladies' man—as they ultimately discover the power of their own voices.

It's 2013, and Circus Palmer, a forty-year-old Boston-based trumpet player and old-school ladies' man, lives for his music and refuses to be tied down. Before a gig in Miami, he learns that the woman who is secretly closest to his heart, the free-spirited drummer Maggie, is pregnant by him. Instead of facing the necessary conversation, Circus flees, setting off a chain of interlocking revelations from the various women in his life. Most notable among them is his teenage daughter, Koko, who idolizes him and is awakening to her own sexuality even as her mentally fragile mother struggles to overcome her rejection by Circus.

Delivering a lush orchestration of diverse female voices, Warrell has penned a provoc­ative and gripping novel about the perennial dangers of desire and the answer to the age-old question: How do we find belonging when love is unrequited?

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"An impressive debut novel weaves storylines of lost love, coming-of-age, and midlife crisis...Warrell displays delicately wrought characterization and a formidable command of physical and emotional detail. Her more intimate set pieces deliver sensual, erotic vibrations...she knows how to write about the way it feels to deliver jazz—and receive it. A captivating modern romance evoking love, loss, recovery, and redemption." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"'Jazz music is to be played sweet, soft, plenty rhythm,' proclaimed Jelly Roll Morton, and Warrell plays her exceptional first novel with plenty of rhythm and tenderness, delivered in brisk, mordantly gorgeous language that has its own natural flow. Each woman has her own life, her own story...and as in any good jazz piece these stories play off one another seamlessly. A highly recommended story of love and life that makes beautiful music." - Library Journal (starred review)

"Warrell unfurls in her engaging debut the story of a peripatetic trumpet player... [She] evocatively describes the women who inspire Circus's music and his lust...and finds the sadness deep in his heart. Warrell hits all the right notes." - Publishers Weekly

"Told in a rich array of voices, this gorgeously written debut explores the myriad syncopations of love and desire. Laura Warrell writes with an enormous understanding of human nature, a boundless sympathy for life's complications, and a keen eye for life's unexpected joys." - Celeste Ng, author of Little Fires Everywhere

"Beautifully and cleverly written, Laura Warrell's Sweet, Soft, Plenty Rhythm is a stunner. The novel's tender, sensual, enchanting prose entices you into a world of deep longing and so much heartache. Still, I didn't want to leave it. A truly mesmerizing debut!" - Deesha Philyaw, author of The Secret Lives of Church Ladies

"The most memorable novels of my life are boiling over with insatiably written secondary characters that crave their own books. The same can be said about our most jamming jazz quartets. This peculiar cacophony is exactly what we see in at least five characters in Sweet, Soft, Plenty Rhythm. Koko, for example, is a once in lifetime, once in a galaxy character. Laura Warrell has crafted a world within the world with the achy mystery, wonder and subtexual bounce of the greatest jazz. Sweet, Soft, Plenty Rhythm is a soulful, fleshy and absolutely stunning debut. Warrell will re-teach us how to wail, pause and reckon. I am thankful." - Kiese Laymon, author of Heavy

This information about Sweet, Soft, Plenty Rhythm was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Laura Warrell

Laura Warrell is a contributor to the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference and the Tin House Summer Workshop, and is a graduate of the creative writing program at Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her work has appeared in HuffPost, The Rumpus, and the Los Angeles Review of Books, among other publications. She has taught creative writing and literature at the Berklee College of Music in Boston and through the Emerging Voices Fellowship at PEN America in Los Angeles, where she lives.

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