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Last Night at the Blue Angel

3.9  ·  Rating Details ·  949 Ratings  ·  229 Reviews
Set against the turbulence of 1960s Chicago, a city in transformation and its legendary jazz scene, Last Night at the Blue Angel is a lush and immensely heartfelt mother-daughter tale about a talented but troubled singer relationship with her precocious ten-year-old daughter.

It is the early 1960s, and Chicago is teeming with the tensions of the day segregation, sexual expe
Hardcover, 328 pages
Published July 1st 2014 by William Morrow
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Will Byrnes
Jul 01, 2016 Will Byrnes rated it it was amazing
It just came crashing down, she says. Sometimes in life it just all comes crashing down.
There’s all sorts of crashings-down going on here, some real, some not. Some are anticipated, but never arrive, some happen before you know it. Others happen far away but carry a large impact. Naomi Hill has been a singer in Chicago (her kind of town) ten years or so and in a once-important jazz club that has seen better days for less than a year. But when her photograph appears on the cover of Look magazin
I enjoyed this one a lot (compliments of LibraryThing). It is 1965 in Chicago--segregation, the Cold War, and razing of some old Chicago buildings all play a part. A single mother, the talented Naomi, sings at The Blue Angel nightclub to support herself and her 10 year old daughter Sophia. Sophia is said to look like Howdy Doody, and yearns for the day when she will be as beautiful and popular as Naomi. Everyone loves Naomi, yet she cannot settle on who to love back. There are many affairs with ...more
Carrie La Seur
Apr 14, 2014 Carrie La Seur rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literary-fiction
I find good reviews much harder to write than bad, because all I want to say is, "This! Read this!" So this is a very hard review to write, because I loved the little girl, and the self-absorbed mother, and the poor guy who loved her, and all the other random characters who inhabit the pages so vividly but are only ever incidental to what's going on with the bewitching lady at the middle of it all. A wonderful read. So ... this! Read this!
Jun 10, 2014 Doreen rated it liked it
Shelves: elle
Hoo boy, this book. Okay, first of all, it deserves a little over 3 stars because it's a great look at the mores of the 1950s and 60s. The relationships are complicated and interesting, and the story itself is fairly engrossing. The friendship between Sophia and Elizabeth is lovely. I felt a sick dread when the twist at the end happened. But.

I don't know if it was the somewhat odd pacing, but nothing in this book really felt earned. The twist made me cry, but it felt more like I'd been manipulat
May 04, 2014 Amanda rated it it was amazing
I LOVED this book. A fascinating debut with the backdrop of Chicago’s 1950’s and 60’s jazz scene. Naomi is a talented but struggling singer with a very lovable and precocious ten year old daughter. Rotert does an excellent job of weaving the story together with chapters alternating between mother and daughter points of view. When you come to the last page it feels like putting the last piece in a complicated jigsaw puzzle.
Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews
Apr 28, 2015 Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews rated it really liked it

Naomi and Sophia live alone as mother and daughter. Naomi is a singer and got her start in her Catholic school with Sister Idalia. Sophia loves her mother, sits at the night club when her mother sings, and sees things an eleven-year-old shouldn't be seeing.

LAST NIGHT AT THE BLUE ANGEL is mostly dialogue with wonderful characters who truly care for each other. Well...most characters care for each other. Naomi seems to be all about herself even though she appears to love her daughter, Sophia.

JoAnne Pulcino
Aug 13, 2014 JoAnne Pulcino rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult-fiction

Rebecca Rotert

LAST NIGHT AT THE BLUE ANGEL is a stunning and emotionally packed novel about Chicago in the 1960’s which was undoubtedly one of the most vibrant jazz scenes in the country. The times they are a changing’ the country had to deal with segregation, free love, sexual experimental and the cold war. Despite all the things happening around them, this is basically a mother daughter story with a wonderful cast of eccentric and off beat characters.

Beautiful and t
Racism, gender diversity,radical feminism, the music business; oh my!
Romance novels have certainly broadened their range.

And Last Night at the Blue Angel A Novel by Rebecca Rotert is certainly a romantic novel,as well as gritty, and utterly engrossing.But a typical ROMANCE it is not.There is the romance of the music world and the lure of fame;the romance of the family; and the opposite of romance revealed in the nun's world

Told from alternating points of view of an ambitious mother and her feisty and wise young daughter, ranging between timescapes
Mar 11, 2016 Cindy rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
So I'm somewhere between 3 and 4 stars on this book. Beautifully written and engaging even though the author would lift my spirits and make me smile then drastically shut me down and make me sad in the next chapter. And Naomi! What a sad excuse for a mother! Loved little Sophia! She was more of an adult than her mother! Lots of sexual escapades happening which took me by surprise. And boy,...the ending!!! This is a great debut novel that will keep you interested in all the characters. I loved ...more
Shirley Schwartz
Feb 19, 2015 Shirley Schwartz rated it it was amazing
Shelves: my-5-star-reads
This book is exquisite and smooth like the music at its base. I cannot believe that this book is a debut novel for Rebecca Rotert. This book will lift you up, and then suddenly cast you down. It will rip out your insides and then calmly place them back in. My heart broke over and over for ten year old Sophia. There is a mind-numbing sadness at times in this book, but then in the next chapter something warm and wonderful happens, and hope soars again. This so exactly portrays the emotions that ...more
Molly Anna
May 21, 2014 Molly Anna rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: adult women
Shelves: first-reads
I am so thrilled to have won this novel through a Goodreads First Reads giveaway because I absolutely loved reading this book. Before beginning, I took some time to read a handful of the early reviews. I have to admit, I am always very skeptical of the initial write-ups, especially when the ratings are high, but this book exceeded even my most optimistic hopes. The true story here isn't about the where and when -- it's about relationships and experience. The longing Sophia has for her mother ...more
Megan Gannon
Aug 09, 2014 Megan Gannon rated it it was amazing
Dear fellow book plunderer--

Let me just cut through all the empty page-turners and summer pot-boilers for you and point you to the book you're looking for. You're looking for the book that oozes over you and encases you in its golden lusciousness from the first word, that suspends you in its dreamlike center so that you never want to come up for air. You want characters who break your heart with their goodness, or break your heart for breaking the hearts of the characters you love, and you want
Aug 28, 2015 ANNE E MORIN rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
We are every character in this novel.

We are every character in this novel. Thank all the gods and goddesses we have a Protector to watch over us.
Jul 28, 2014 Lela rated it really liked it
Loved it! Review soon.
Aug 03, 2014 Dawn rated it it was amazing
Read this book, people! One of the few 5 star books I've read this year. And I'm not just saying that because the author is an amazing woman who I happened to have the good fortune of going to college with back in the day. I'm a big fan of historical fiction and this novel does not disappoint in that regard. The big issues of the 1960's -- racism, segregation, Vietnam, the destruction of historically significant architecture in the name of "progress" are all woven into the story line. The ...more
Lisa Mcbroom
Jul 24, 2014 Lisa Mcbroom rated it liked it
Okay I will you give you the good and the bad......
Let's do the bad first....
1. The alternative lifestyle being thrown at me.... I don't mind reading about alternative life styles but let's not beat me over the head with it!!!!!

2. I don't like back and forth narratives and what was up with the conversations being in italics?

Now for the good...
I loved the time period and the description of Jazz Clubs!
I loved the character of Sophis the child..... I hope the author puts her in another book!
The aut
Victor Carson
Apr 26, 2015 Victor Carson rated it really liked it
Shelves: willie-s-5-star
A fascinating and not wholly flattering study of Naomi,a young nightclub singer, and her friends, including a photographer who loves the old buildings in Chicago nearly as much as he loves Naomi. The singer grows up in Kansas but has to flee that home to escape a scandal and find a place to develop her singing career. She retains three friends from Kansas, but her career is fostered by a former police officer who will become a well-known photographer. A well-crafted story, told mostly through ...more
Aug 19, 2015 Stacy rated it really liked it
I went into this thinking it was going to be a book about mother/daughter relationships but it was really about so much more. It was a coming of age story that worked its way backwards to the beginning. The format added suspense to the novel as the complexity of the relationships were revealed. Ultimately it was a lesson in not appreciating what you have until it's gone and even then, I'm not sure the lesson was truly learned. I enjoyed the myriad of subplots that kept it interesting.
Apr 27, 2015 Marlene rated it really liked it
Originally published at Reading Reality

There were points in this story when I wavered between the knowledge that it was centered around Naomi Hill’s very last night at the Blue Angel, and the unfolding story of what happened last night (and last week and last month) at the Blue Angel.

There’s a sense that every night brings the same set of crises and triumphs to Naomi’s life and career, at least as it is viewed from the perspective of her 11-year-old daughter Sophia.

While this is in Chicago in th
I chose Last Night at the Blue Angel as a discussion book for my library book club. It was a little “steamier” (their word) than I realized it would be. One of the main characters is not only a bisexual, but she participates in a threesome at one point. While not graphically descriptive, it’s descriptive enough to cause comments from the club members.

But it’s the 1960s, and Naomi is rebelling against the conventional expectations of her. The book is narrated in turns by Naomi and her 10-year-old
Jul 07, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: joanne

Brought to you by OBS reviewer JoAnne

According to the information above, the book was supposed to be about the tensions surrounding the 60′s, a woman with a great passion for life and her child, and her need for adoration. Well, one out of three I guess.

I was intrigued by the title and the blurb, and literally slogged through the book. Although it takes place in the 60′s, there is so little mentioned about the current events of the time that you would thin
Tia Bach
May 06, 2015 Tia Bach rated it it was amazing
Rating: 4.5 stars

Naomi Hill is ready for the next step, for her singing to push her to stardom. Standing in the wings at a pivotal show, Sophia--Naomi's daughter--realizes everything is about to change. This is where the book starts--at the last night at the Blue Angel, with Naomi teetering on the precipice of her dreams.

Told from both Naomi and Sophia's perspectives, the reader is sent back in time to find out how the women got to this point. Sophia, although young, lives almost exclusively in
Jaclyn Bauer
Oct 31, 2014 Jaclyn Bauer rated it really liked it
Rebecca Rotert’s breakthrough novel Last Night at the Blue Angel is the heart wrenching tale of two women: one struggling artist and single mother, and one overly mature, eleven-year-old daughter.

Living in Chicago in 1965, Naomi is a jazz singer at a hole in the wall club called the Blue Angel and lives with her daughter Sophia in a motel. Sophia, more the mother figure of the relationship, is a friendless, freckled ten-year-old who is constantly in fear of bombs being dropped and the world comi
May 31, 2015 Ben rated it really liked it
Last Night at the Blue Angel
Rebecca Rotert (Author)
'Last Night at the Blue Angel' is one of those novels that takes you into a place that is far removed from your own existence.

The setting is the early 1960's (sometime before the first Beatles LP, and the end of the Lady Chatterley ban) Chicago Jazz scene, where the central character of Naomi Hill is a talented Jazz singer, where her self-destructive nature adds to her allure for her audience, but separates her from her precocious ten year old d
Dec 04, 2014 Susan rated it really liked it
“When she notices me, all the times she doesn't notice me get erased. Like I imagined them.”

A washed up singer who performs in a dingy nightclub, long past its glory days, loves her daughter but is not much of a mom. Not so much abuse as neglect and self involvement. This novel is the story of Naomi and her daughter Sophia, and some of their friends. Sophia is too wise for her age, but isn't that often the case with children who need to play the role of an adult?

The characters are wonderful. Fla
Aug 17, 2015 Kathy rated it really liked it
I enjoy books where the MC is a young person. I like the perspective and the freshness provided by youth. Last Night at the Blue Angel, was an excellent example of this. Sophia is ten, in 1965 and lives in a hotel in Chicago with her mother, Naomi, a singer at the Blue Angel, a less than top of the line Jazz club. Sophia's life is full of adults from Jim, the photographer, who obviously adores her mother, to a seamstress and a nun who are her mother's friends,
The present day story is told by Sop
Sharon Chance
May 11, 2015 Sharon Chance rated it really liked it
An emotionally charged story told from the viewpoints of mother and daughter, "Last Night At The Blue Angel" is a fascinating look at a world-weary jazz singer's life and how her daughter sees the same world through fresher, younger eyes.

Author Rebecca Rotert captures the reader's attention from the very first as she guides the journey through the haze of a smoky jazz-filled life of heartache, disappointment, misery, and pain. But there are also moments of joy and laughter and love mixed into t
Apr 25, 2015 Pam rated it really liked it
I loved Last Night at the Blue Angel from beginning to end.

It is the story of relationships. Primarily a mother/daughter relationship between Naomi Hill and her daughter Sophia. But it’s more than just their relationship, it the relationships of the people that support them. I was particularly moved by the relationship between Jim and Sophia. Jim is not Sophia’s father, but his love for her mother and her is so selfless.

The story of Naomi and Sophia is told in alternating chapters from each vi
Feb 23, 2016 Bobbi rated it liked it
I grew to like this book more and more as the characters wove their ways into my heart. The very vulnerable yet need-to-be-strong mother, daughter and entourage, sucked in everything life threw at them, forcing my attention and sympathy. The reader is introduced to the "family" Naomi created through daughter Sophia's storyline. Understanding, through the interwoven story of Naomi's Kansas childhood and flight to St Louis and then Chicago, how the younger Naomi created this hodgepodge of ...more
Jul 23, 2014 Nicole rated it liked it
I received an advanced readers copy of Last Night at the Blue Angel, from Elle Magazine for their reader review and I enjoyed reading it, but really struggled to come up with a review of it because when I finished this book my mind wasn’t racing with thoughts or comments and there really wasn't much I wanted to discuss. I’m not sure if that means I was totally fulfilled or just flat. :)

What I came up with for Elle is: The book told of shattering experiences for both mother and daughter, but it’s
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Rebecca Rotert received her MA from Hollins College in Virginia where she was the recipient of the Academy of American Poets prize. Her poetry and essays have appeared in Santa Clara Review, America magazine, Hospital Drive Journal of Literature and Humanities, Temenos journal, Outside-In magazine, Health Progress and the New York Times. Her essay, Proteus on the Vasa was nominated for a Pushcart ...more
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“I thought, Here is a person who can wear the world so lightly. Why wouldn't I love her? Who wouldn't want to be by her side forever?

You got in trouble for loving her?

Of course, But there's no real effective punishment for love. Is there?”
“to come around, you’re going to grow up. Break a leg tonight.” 0 likes
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