cover image A Love Song for Ricki Wilde

A Love Song for Ricki Wilde

Tia Williams. Grand Central, $29 (352p) ISBN 978-1-5387-2670-9

Elegantly blending past and present, romance and fantasy, Williams (Seven Days in June) delivers a gorgeous, transportive love letter to the Harlem Renaissance. The novel begins in the present day, introducing 28-year-old vintage fashionista Ricki Wilde, the youngest in a high-achieving, high-society Atlanta family. While her sisters happily contribute to her father’s funeral home empire, Ricki, who’s considered by her family to be “too flighty, too messy, too much,” wants nothing to do with the family business. She dreams instead of opening a flower shop—and through hard work, an extremely popular floral Instagram account, and a touch of fate, she’s able to move to Harlem and follow her dream. Bouts of crushing loneliness and social anxiety are eased by Tuesday, a former child star who bursts into the shop and becomes Ricki’s new best friend, and Ms. Della, her spunky 96-year-old landlady. And then there’s Ezra, a jazz savant who, Ricki thinks, would be “beautiful in any era, anytime, anywhere”—and indeed he seems somewhat out of place in this one. What begins as a simple romance is elevated by rich history as the story flashes back through Harlem’s past, revealing both its glamor and its danger. This vast time span creates an epic feel that never overpowers the tender heat of the romance. It’s a showstopper. Agent: Cherise Fisher, Wendy Sherman Assoc. (Feb.)