Dollface: A Novel of the Roaring Twenties

( 19 )

Overview

America in the 1920s was a country alive with the wild fun of jazz, speakeasies, and a new kind of woman—the flapper.

Vera Abramowitz is determined to leave her gritty childhood behind and live a more exciting life, one that her mother never dreamed of. Bobbing her hair and showing her knees, the lipsticked beauty dazzles, doing the Charleston in nightclubs and earning the nickname “Dollface.” 

As the ultimate flapper, Vera captures the ...

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Dollface: A Novel of the Roaring Twenties

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Overview

America in the 1920s was a country alive with the wild fun of jazz, speakeasies, and a new kind of woman—the flapper.

Vera Abramowitz is determined to leave her gritty childhood behind and live a more exciting life, one that her mother never dreamed of. Bobbing her hair and showing her knees, the lipsticked beauty dazzles, doing the Charleston in nightclubs and earning the nickname “Dollface.” 

As the ultimate flapper, Vera captures the attention of two high rollers, a handsome nightclub owner and a sexy gambler. On their arms, she gains entrée into a world filled with bootleg bourbon, wailing jazz, and money to burn.  She thinks her biggest problem is choosing between them until the truth comes out. Her two lovers are really mobsters from rival gangs during Chicago’s infamous Beer Wars, a battle Al Capone refuses to lose. 

The heady life she’s living is an illusion resting on a bedrock of crime and violence unlike anything the country has ever seen before. When the good times come to an end, Vera becomes entangled in everything from bootlegging to murder. And as men from both gangs fall around her, Vera must put together the pieces of her shattered life, as Chicago hurtles toward one of the most infamous days in its history, the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. 

READERS GUIDE INCLUDED

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
★ 10/01/2013
Gun molls, speakeasies, gangsters, jazz, flappers, Prohibition, and Al Capone—it's the Roaring Twenties, and Vera Abramowitz is ready to bust loose. Vera, or Dollface, as her North Side "gentlemen's gangster" lover Shep Green calls her, is tired of the stink of the meatpacking industry hanging on her mother's house and escapes to Chicago for independence and a little fun. Fortunately, a pretty girl can drink and dance all she wants in the Green Mill speakeasy. Vera finds passion with a handsome bootlegger named Tony along the way, complicating the solid, safe relationship she has with Shep—well, as safe as a relationship with a high-level gangster can get. VERDICT Rosen, author of the YA novel Every Crooked Pot, has done her homework and written a flashy story that is more than your average gangster noir. As Vera's life unfolds and the consequences of her choices become clear, the novel evolves with her—from a coming-of-age tale, to a love story, and, finally, a lesson on redemption and coming home. Those interested in novels set in the 1920s and all things Gatsby will not be disappointed.—Jennifer Funk, McKendree Univ. Lib., Lebanon, IL
Kirkus Reviews
2013-10-01
A flapper marries into Chicago's North Side mob shortly before that gang challenges Al Capone's South Siders for control of Chicago's rackets. Vera Abramowitz, young, Jewish and determined to escape her mother, moves into a boardinghouse and gets a job as a typist, as does her friend Evelyn. Although Evelyn's origins are solidly middle class, Vera had a brush with Chicago-style crime early on: Her mother took over Abramowitz's kosher meatpacking plant in the Stock Yards after her father was killed by the notorious Black Hand mob. The friends bob their hair, frequent speak-easies and soon attract gangster boyfriends. For a while, Vera is dangerously seeing both handsome gambler Tony, a Capone henchman, and affable, refined Shep Green, a nightclub owner and kingpin of the North Side gang. When Vera becomes pregnant, Tony absconds, and so she persuades Shep to marry her. Shep's associate Izzy slaps Evelyn around, and when Vera confronts him, he insinuates that he knows about Tony. Aside from the occasional bullet hole in the ceiling of her opulent new home and foulmouthed gangsters interrupting her Women's Jewish Council meetings, Vera settles comfortably into marriage to the mob, Roaring '20s–style. Her support system now includes, besides Evelyn, Basha and Dora, two self-professed gun molls who show the greenhorns the ropes. When Vera witnesses the torture of an underling by Shep and his boss, Dion, she almost leaves, but the birth of daughter Hannah and her luxurious surroundings paralyze her resolve. After Dion is bumped off by Capone's men, hostilities between the two mobs escalate rapidly. The novel gets off to a slow start as Vera hovers on the fringes of Shep's world; it isn't until a third of the way in, as Vera's dilemma deepens, that narrative tension heightens. Clearly, Rosen, a Chicagoan, has done her research to bring this world to life, however the period ambience is disrupted at times by anachronisms like "rethink" and "updated." Once it finds its stride, this novel achieves a breathless finish.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780451419200
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 11/5/2013
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 284,784
  • Product dimensions: 5.76 (w) x 8.18 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Renee Rosen

Renée Rosen is the author of Every Crooked Pot, a young adult novel. Dollface: A Novel of the Roaring Twenties is her first adult work of fiction. She lives in Chicago where she is at work on a new novel.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 19 )
Rating Distribution

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(12)

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(5)

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Sort by: Showing all of 20 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 19, 2013

    I received this copy through Goodreads First Reads. I LOATHE lo

    I received this copy through Goodreads First Reads.

    I LOATHE love triangles. 
    I LOOOVE period pieces. 
    I LOATHE dependent female leads.
    I LOOOVE mobster movies.

    So it all kind of evened out in the end for me.

    Vera was someone I strongly disliked when she was dependent on others. It wasn't until she was on her own that I started to like her. I really liked the sisterly bond with the other women that still carried the realistic vision that sometimes we just can't stand each other but that's not going to stop us from protecting our circle.

    I loved the gritty parts and all the historical minute details thrown in. I can tell a significant amount of research was used. 

    And I love that someone like Capone was included so discreetly. He seems to be a major character without being a major character without completely destroying any sort of historical correctness. (If that makes sense.)

    Makes me want to read more roaring twenties novels and watch some more gangster movies. 

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 24, 2013

    Sex, Guns, Booze and a little shpilkes¿¿. On page one, you meet

    Sex, Guns, Booze and a little shpilkes…….
    On page one, you meet Vera Abramowitz, a few pages later, she is your friend. And a few pages after that, you want to shake her by the shoulders for the choices she makes running from her past. Vera becomes the fulcrum of the eternal triangle in 1920s Chicago, torn between two men who both love her and are deadly killers. The pages fly by as she learns about love, the Chicago gang wars and making a choice. She grows in experience and wisdom, turning from girl to woman as she makes her way. You’ll find yourself rooting for her, yelling at her and wanting to save her as she learns what it takes to move in the world of Al Capone, Dion O’Bannon and Hymie Weiss.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 20, 2013

    Dollface was a great read. It kept me wanting to keep reading.

    Dollface was a great read. It kept me wanting to keep reading. I did not want it to end. Each chapter kept me wanting to go on. Loved it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 6, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    ¿Dollface¿ was the name frequently given to girlfriends of mobst

    “Dollface” was the name frequently given to girlfriends of mobsters during the “Flapper” years of the Roaring Twenties.  To be so labeled was an honor, indicating the woman was highly protected and fawned on, but at a very great cost. Vera Abramowitz appears initially as a girl who thought she was escaping a world of drudgery by fleeing to Chicago.  Her father had been killed by the Black Hand Gang and she wanted nothing of that life or of the meat packing plant her mother was now running, an amazing feat in itself in this era when women were only just starting to work in offices and factories but certainly not in management.   Vera doesn’t quite see it that way and is barely making her meager bills with her typist’s salary. But two men are about to change Vera’s entire world and introduce her to the world of flashy living, guns, mobster hits, illegal booze running, and more toughness than any sane woman would ever want!
    Tony, an Al Capone hood, first dazzles Vera with his fancy lifestyle to which he introduces her.  Their world is filled with unbelievable passion but without commitment and the latter is the only part that leaves Vera feeling somewhat unsure of the future. Still she hangs on as her life has become somewhat easier since Tony treats her well with occasional gifts and even money.  All of this changes when she meets a man named Shep Green, who owns a nightclub and is deeply involved with Capone’s rival gang, the North Side Gang.  Tony knows Vera is attracted to Shep, but Shep knows nothing of his serious rival.  It is Shep to whom Vera pivots because he actually shows that he really cares about her, a novelty for this love-starved gal who is so dazzled with the luxurious lifestyle around her new friends.  Questions arise, though, that are extremely disquieting at times but which Vera shoves away in denial, literally questions of life and death!
    Hints are dropped by Shep’s friends that seem to indicate shady business deals and rivalries that wind up in “hits.”  These increase in frequency throughout the novel as vengeance and fury rule the day with the grief of losing each member.  Vera is lost in her new home and eventually a gorgeous baby girl after a very quick wedding to Shep, but her denial phase is about to end with a bang when more murders occur and Shep seems slated to go to jail.  Her fortunes, it seems, are as fickle as fate since they rely on something that is totally falling apart at the seams.
    There is enough partying, gaiety, intimate sharings with guys and gals, dancing, drinking, shopping for the latest flapper styles and hairdos, tension, unexplained dangers, and so much more that keep the reader riveted to every page and flipping them rapidly to find out more.  It’s an attractive and glamorous lifestyle these characters lived, a post-WWI revel that couldn’t possibly last but which was relished by participants and observers (readers as well) while it reigned supreme in the streets of major cities around America in the 1920’s. The end is stunning and can be visualized as a fierce and heart-rending mobster movie scene! Renee Rosen has captured not only the essence of it all but the fierce passion in which mobsters and their gals moved with elegance and gusto! This is a terrific read about a volatile and exciting time and is highly recommended to all!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 29, 2013

    As a baby boomer I grew up watching the Untouchables on TV.  The

    As a baby boomer I grew up watching the Untouchables on TV.  Then came Mario Puzo and the Godfather book
    (made into movies by Francis Ford Coppola), and many movies with Al Pachino and Robert De Niro, et al,
    all of which defined and promoted our taste for books, movies and TV shows depicting the gangsters of the roaring 20’s.
    However, throughout this genre, women are rarely portrayed.

    In Renee Rosen’s new book, Dollface, we are given a look at this era through the eyes of a “Nice Jewish Girl” who marries
    into the mob.  It’s a love story, it’s a gangland expose, and it’s a great read.

    The author has certainly done her homework on Chicago in the roaring 20’s.  She also writes in a style that is a pleasure to read.

    I recommend this book to men and women alike who want another reason to explore the1920’s and the gangsters who made
    them roar.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 27, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Vera Abramowitz has just moved out of her mother¿s house, anxiou

    Vera Abramowitz has just moved out of her mother’s house, anxious to be on her own. She moved from small-town Illinois to nearby Chicago, and with her beauty, youth, and desire to wear the latest fashion, she quickly becomes the ultimate flapper. Working long hours at two and sometimes three jobs, she barely earns enough to pay her rent. Still, she manages to spend some time at local Speakeasies where the jazz is cool, the booze flows freely, and gangsters plan their next job.




    Vera soon catches the attention of two gangsters, Shep Green, who belongs to the North Side Gang run by Dion O’Banion, and Tony Liolli, a member of Al Capone’s South Side Gang. She falls for both men and soon is pregnant and needs to get married fast. Tony knows all about Vera’s relationship with Shep, but Shep knows nothing about there being another man in Vera’s life. The young woman decides that Shep would be a better choice as a husband and father and the two are soon married. While Vera may think her troubles have ended, the Chicago ‘Beer Wars’ have started heating up and with two men, each from opposite sides in the war, Vera is caught right in the middle.




    Told in the first person by Vera, a.k.a. ‘Dollface,’ the story takes off at a fast pace. In the early stages, when we first meet Vera, she is a young woman out on her own for the first time. This, I believe, accounts for her naiveté and indecisiveness as regards men. While all those around her knew Shep and Tony were gangsters, it took Vera a while to figure it out. She also couldn’t choose between the more stable, somewhat family oriented Shep and the unreliable, out-for-a-good-time Tony, even when she had a young child to care for. As circumstances changed, however, Vera was forced to mature and this made her a more enjoyable protagonist. As for the other characters, they were well developed and it was such fun to read a 1920s gangster novel from the women’s point of view. While most books and movies of the roaring twenties concentrate on the gangsters, this novel took an interesting turn and made those men peripheral to the real story – the women behind the men. We meet many real, and some fictional, wives and gun molls of famous gangsters, and get a peek into what their lives were like. I loved this aspect of the story and it made for a very quick read.




    Quill says: I loved, loved, loved this book. If you want to get lost in the world of 1920s gangsters, prohibition and jazz, don’t miss Dollface!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 13, 2014

    It was an okay book. I was always fascinated by the 20's era, an

    It was an okay book. I was always fascinated by the 20's era, and the autho does a good job of making you feel as if you were there. My only issues was Vera tended to annoy me quite frequently, and I wish they're could of been a little more action. The overview made it seem a lot more exciting than it actually turned out to be.  But still a good book.

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  • Posted February 7, 2014

    I¿ve always been one who loves books set in various times throug

    I’ve always been one who loves books set in various times throughout history, so when I came across this book by Renee Rosen, it was no question that I wanted to read it. Dollface is a novel set in the roaring 20s, a time I’ve always been fascinated with.
    I really enjoyed Vera’s character, even though she came across as cocky and arrogant at times, it was hard not to admire the independence she encompassed throughout her journey. This wasn’t a book that just touched on the 20s, but one that took you on a crazy ride through the lives of those who experienced it first hand. I felt emerged in Vera’s world and couldn’t help but feel as though I were walking the streets along side of her and enjoying the wild and exciting lives of a young woman living during the 1920s.
    The visual imagery throughout the book is phenomenal and made you feel as if you were experiencing it first hand. The events throughout the book are ones that will take you on a few twists and turns and even throwing in a few mysteries to the reader. I loved taking this journey with Vera and highly recommend this read to anyone who enjoys historical fiction.




    If you do decide to give this book a chance, prepare yourself for a few surprises, laughs, and maybe even a few tears.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 19, 2013

    I love everything about the Roaring 20's and when I read the rev

    I love everything about the Roaring 20's and when I read the review in the book, "If you're a fan of Boardwalk Empire, you'll love this book. So I bought it. I read voraciously and was terribly disappointed in the poor writing style of this author. I don't know if this is her first or fiftieth book, but this one has left me eager to finish it. The paragraphing is poor; the writer skips from Vera not wanting to get out of bed to go to work to later that night with nothing in the middle. It doesn't jump around, in that it does follow a time sequence, but it lacked creative imagination and imagery, in my opinion. Maybe I'm a book snob, but this is one that I wouldn't recommend to anyone with any kind of reading experience. I was so surprised at how terrible this book is because the 20's were so full of imagery, style, mischief, changes, strife and just plain old fun. None of that was described in the book. The author does not give us good character descriptions, scenes of private life, full dialogues, the rich feeling that one wants when reading a book. Sadly.

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  • Posted December 13, 2013

    Wish there were more like it

    Although I have a great interest in the Roaring Twenties Era, I have to say this was a very good book that kept me reading...didn't want to put it down, and enjoyed the characters as much as the subject matter. This era is an eye opener, especially for young women who think things are changing.....just read and see where we came from....we relive the past in so many ways. Worth it to buy this book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 20, 2013

    It plays in my mind like a movie. When I read this book I see it

    It plays in my mind like a movie.
    When I read this book I see it all in my mind but on the big screen. I’m not thinking Scorsese (although there are a lot bodies), but it is that kind of caliber. You have everything; love, murder, deception and the human condition. When does the movie come out?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 18, 2013

    This is a fun, well crafted engaging book. I loved the rhythm, w

    This is a fun, well crafted engaging book. I loved the rhythm, writin', and romantically raw style, plus it's witty and historic. I really got to know the characters whether I loved them or not.


    CCCO

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  • Posted November 18, 2013

    There's something fascinating about the 1920s--the era of Prohib

    There's something fascinating about the 1920s--the era of Prohibition, gangsters, and gun molls. Renee Rosen evokes this era perfectly in her novel DOLLFACE. DOLLFACE is the story of Vera Abramowitz, a young woman who longs for excitement and glamour but gets more than bargained for when she falls in love with two men from rival gangs in Chicago. Vera and her fellow gangster wives and gun molls are fascinating, as are the rich historical details about Prohibition-era Chicago. It's enough to make you want to be a gangster's girlfriend!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 18, 2013

    This story grabs you and transports you back to the Roaring Twe

    This story grabs you and transports you back to the Roaring Twenties. Well written page turner and I could not put it down. Everyone will be talking about Dollface.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 17, 2013

    Loved this book! I couldn't put it down, each page drew me furt

    Loved this book! I couldn't put it down, each page drew me further into the world of Vera and her friends as they live through both denial and acceptance of their gangster boyfriends' way of life. The author skillfully creates a world where you are completely immersed in the 20's, I enjoyed every moment of being a flapper through Vera's eyes and living her adventures. I will definitely be giving this book as a gift for the holidays!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 17, 2013

    I really loved this book. The characters are intoxicating, espec

    I really loved this book. The characters are intoxicating, especially Vera. She's strong, smart and passionate.
    There are so many wonderful parts of the story. The writing is rich and the dialog makes you feel like you're in a room overhearing
    a conversation. Renee Rosen captured the roaring twenties in a way that roared with emotion, bootlegging and great love and lust.
    Already on the holiday gift giving list. 

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 17, 2013

    I don't usually go for historical fiction, but I am so happy I o

    I don't usually go for historical fiction, but I am so happy I opened the door to DOLLFACE. As I read the book I really felt like I was experiencing the world of Vera Abramowitz, the main character. The writing had an effortless feel which led me by the hand into a whole other time and place - just like a great novel is supposed to do! I felt as though I was seeing, hearing and feeling through the eyes, ears and heart of Vera. I hated having to put the book down and could not wait to pick it up and dive in again. Hats off to Renee Rosen for creating an exciting, intriguing story with very memorable characters. DOLLFACE made me feel like I was there.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 16, 2013

    This novel was not at all what I expected. It was better. I'm a

    This novel was not at all what I expected. It was better. I'm a tough audience and I really didn't think a novel about the twenties would hold my interest, but I was pleasantly surprised. The book really captures the era well, and the manner in which Vera's story unfolds is quite engaging. All in all it was a fun read that ended a bit too soon. As I neared the end of the book I started slowing down to make the story last longer. For me, that's the mark of a great read. I'll miss Vera.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 13, 2013

    Although I finished reading "Dollface" a few days ago,

    Although I finished reading "Dollface" a few days ago, I still feel wonderfully immersed in 1920s Chicago. Rosen seamlessly combines real historic events and notorious characters  with fictional ones. The story of flapper Vera, her ups and downs and her men, is captivating and will keep you reading cover to cover, perhaps in one sitting like, me. I love the slang from the era and Rosen describes everything so vividly you can almost hear the jazz, smell the hooch, and of course visualize the clothes, the cars, etc. I absolutely loved this book and plan to give it to many friends and relatives for the holidays!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 11, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

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