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When Washington Was in Vogue: A Love Story
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When Washington Was in Vogue: A Love Story

3.8  ·  Rating Details ·  127 Ratings  ·  22 Reviews
A literary event, this love story was written and set in the 1920s during the Harlem Renaissance and is being published in book form for the very first time.

In the tradition of Dorothy West's The Wedding and Nella Larsen's Passing, When Washington Was in Vogue casts a loving but critical eye on Black high society of 1920s Washington, D.C. A novel told in letters, this sly,
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Hardcover, 320 pages
Published January 6th 2004 by Amistad (first published January 1st 2004)
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Shannon
Jun 16, 2015 Shannon rated it liked it
This novel, which is referred to as a lost novel of the Harlem Renaissance, unfolds as a comical series of letters written by Davy Carr to his friend Bob. Davy is in Washington, DC to do research for a book about the African slave trade. While there he meets a young woman named Caroline that he’s not quite sure how to handle. But through the letters he sends to Bob, it’s obvious that he’s falling in love with her.

As Davy becomes familiar with his new surroundings, he gets absorbed into circles o
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Olivia K.
2.5 stars!

When I first started reading this book, I didn't expect to get so agitated towards Davy's attitude and outlook towards women. It's almost painful at times to read the interactions of each character. I wasn't surprised that Davy end up with Caroline. Hah! I was mesmerized by the short history lessons so I'm giving this a half-half 2.5 ratings.
SunnyD
this was a difficult read for me...a book club selection. i just couldn't get into it. it's a story told through letters, during the harlem reniassance but set in washington DC. the writer of the letters is writing to his friend back in harlem about all his experiences in DC among the black elite crowd. he fits right in as he is stuffy too. although i'll give him credit for the fact that he did not 'pass' as he could have. that was not something many people chose to do at that time if the option ...more
Kristen
Mar 07, 2008 Kristen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A neat book that speaks of DC in its heyday for African Americans. The book was written to prove that the U Street area was every bit as fun and full of culture and high-living as 125th Street in NY. It's told through a series of letters (without the accompanying responses); many of the letters address important social issues of the day. I thought that style was very inventive and clever -- a good way to raise awareness without getting too preachy or having to artificially weave incidents into a ...more
Emily
Jan 20, 2016 Emily rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"He said...that better incomes are making us more cowardly, rather than more bold, for we can now procure in our own circle the satisfactions we once could get only outside, and so we shut our eyes to what we do not wish to see, and then assert that it does not exist; that we love pleasure too much, and that we will spend more both of time and money in following it than any other struggling race in the world." - pg. 39
Vzenari
Nov 24, 2014 Vzenari rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The book focusses too much on descriptions of parties and the predictable resolution of love plots to allow me to assign three stars. Those interested in American society in the 1920s and in African-American society in particular, this book may be worth reading. The introduction to the book outlines the book's significance in the field of Harlem Renaissance studies (i.e., the book is set in Washington, not New York, and is an epistolary novel with no white characters at all).
Laura
When Washington was in Vogue by Edward Christopher Williams (1871-1929) tells a fascinating tale of life during the Roaring Twenties--a time which also encompassed the Harlem Renaissance. Williams shows in his book that African Americans also had thriving communities in other cities (Washington for instance), and not just Harlem during this period. He should know--although born in Cleveland, OH, Williams moved to Washington DC where he took a post at Howard University in 1916; he served as hea ...more
Michelle
Apr 21, 2010 Michelle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having no idea what to expect, I found When Washington was in Vogue to be a fascinating, first-hand picture into an era that was pivotal for both ethnic and gender diversity. At first, the subject matter is decidedly uncomfortable. I am not the target audience. In fact, having grown up in the 80s and 90s, I was taught to ignore the issue of race because race does not impact how I interact with others. However, with this novel, I not only could not ignore this issue, I was forced to deal with ver ...more
Lauren
Aug 08, 2012 Lauren rated it really liked it
An epistolary novel originally published in serial format in the 1920s, the manuscript was “lost” until a graduate student accidentally stumbled upon it in the 1990s and decided the world needed to read about Davy Carr and his introduction to the Black bourgeoisie of Washington, D.C. It’s a fluffy, light-hearted story that is light on plot but full of description (perhaps too much) and engaging characters. In particular, Caroline, the dark-skinned younger daughter of Davy’s landlord, sparkles, j ...more
Laura
Jan 28, 2016 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Maybe there are other whimsically romantic fantasies written by and for middle-aged intellectual black men, but I have not yet read them, so this was a delightful novelty for me. I came to this book because I was interested in its author -- a fellow Clevelandler and the first professionally trained African American librarian. I came away from it convinced that I couldn't have gained more insight into his personality and values if I'd uncovered his lost memoirs.

An interesting note: The main chara
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Cheryl
Aug 04, 2012 Cheryl rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I FOUND THE BOOK MILDLY INTERESTING. DAVY'S DIMNESS REGARDING WOMEN IS SOMEWHAT ALARMING GIVEN HIS EDUCATION AND WORLDLINESS. DON'T THEE PEOPLE WORK? ARE THEY ALL A BUNCH OF BOOTLEGGERS? THE CHARACTER INTERACTIONS ARE SO SOPHOMORIC AND TEDIOUS THAT THEY REMIND ME OF MIDDLE SCHOOL EXCEPT THESE PEOPLE HAVE A BETTER COMMAND OF THE LANGUAGE. THAT DAVY ENDS UP WITH CAROLINE IS NO SURPRISE; SHE IS OBVIOUSLY LOOKING FOR "DADDY" JUDGING FROM HER FONDNESS FOR DATING DOCTORS WHO, BY DEFINITION, CAN AND DO ...more
RJohnson
Aug 24, 2016 RJohnson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The prose was excellent. It reminded me a bit of Jane Austen with AA characters. The topic was important and frank: colorism during the Harlem Renaissance. The story focused on society parties more than I would have liked, but it delineated class structure in the black community at the time. Wish it was more widely read.
Dana
Aug 14, 2011 Dana rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this at "Frugal Muse" and bought it out of desperation to find something...the description of the book compares it to the Great Gatsby...it was written during the Harlem Renaissance and was interesting from a historical perspective. The story line was a little "loopy", but I did like reading it...some parts made me chuckle as was intended...
Bebe20018
This was a change of pace for me but I enjoyed it. It's a very different kind of falling in love story, maybe because of the time it took place 1922 or because of the way it is told, through letters written to a friend.
R.K. Johnson
Sep 22, 2015 R.K. Johnson rated it it was amazing
Loved, loved, loved this book. Where has it been all my life? It was elegantly written and so beautifully drawn. The scenes were lovely, artistic vignettes! I loved all the characters and hope to see this novel optioned for a movie one day. Edward Christopher Williams was a wonderful writer.
Sienna
Oct 04, 2008 Sienna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Besides a hurried and cheesy ending, this book is FLAWLESS. It has to be the best book I have read in years, and it takes place during the Harlem Renaissance. It battles racism, literature, and love, all in 300 pages, and it is magnificient.
Elizabeth
Jun 27, 2014 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. A fun story, fun to read about Washington in the 1920s, and interesting to get it all from the African American perspective.
Megan
Jan 24, 2013 Megan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a find - just like a Jane Austin novel, but written for the African-American community at the turn of the century. So cute and predictable.
Madeleine
Madeleine rated it liked it
Dec 30, 2016
Andrea
Andrea rated it liked it
Jul 18, 2012
Mary-jane Roth
Mary-jane Roth rated it really liked it
Feb 25, 2015
Deb2readsandreads
Deb2readsandreads rated it it was amazing
Aug 14, 2010
Zana Bear
Zana Bear rated it really liked it
Feb 17, 2015
Kelly
Kelly rated it it was ok
Mar 21, 2010
Stacia Boatwright
Stacia Boatwright rated it really liked it
Feb 18, 2014
Hank Xu
Hank Xu rated it it was amazing
Jan 19, 2017
Tannie Bradley
Tannie Bradley rated it it was amazing
Feb 22, 2015
Alexandria Library
Alexandria Library rated it it was amazing
Jun 11, 2015
Erika
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May 12, 2012
Mary
Mary rated it it was amazing
Jun 15, 2014
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