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Last Night at the Blue Angel
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Last Night at the Blue Angel

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  1,198 ratings  ·  267 reviews
Set against the backdrop of the early 1960s Chicago jazz scene, a highly ambitious and stylish literary debut that combines the atmosphere and period detail of Amor Towles' Rules of Civility with the emotional depth and drama of The Memory Keeper's Daughter, about a talented but troubled singer. precocious ten-year-old daughter, and their heartbreaking relationship.

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ebook, 352 pages
Published July 1st 2014 by William Morrow
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Average rating 3.89  · 
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Will Byrnes
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 magaz
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
Mar 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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! ...more
Jun 07, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
JoAnne Pulcino
Aug 13, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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

Naomi and Sophia live alone as mother and daughter. Naomi is a singer and got her start i​n 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.

May 05, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 th ...more
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 timesca
Shirley Schwartz
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 So ...more
Aug 13, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is a hard review to post, I almost gave it a 3. But some aspects of Chicago are absolutely nailed and feel right in era, like Riverview. Others, not at all. But overall, this is a 2.5. The plot is pathetic.

Details of the storyline were so Naomi centric that I lost my attention. She was neither a good Mother, nor very rational.

But beyond the story problems of distaste to the characterizations, I couldn't get into it for nostalgia's sake or even for the street descriptions which were better
DJ Sakata
Favorite Quotes:

“Mother is a singer. I live in her dark margin.”

“Mother has many kinds of smiles. This one is the I’m sad and all alone but I don’t want you to worry smile.”

“When she notices me, all the times she doesn’t notice me get erased. Like I imagined them.”

“Darling, she said gently, we don’t get to live two lives at once. We must choose between who we were and who we would like to be. I know this better than anyone.”

My Review:

Last Night at the Blue Angel is one of those beautifully craft
Molly Anna
May 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: adult women
Shelves: giveaways
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 Nao ...more
Megan Gannon
Aug 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 29, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved it! Review soon.
Aug 28, 2015 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.

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
Jul 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 charac ...more
Lisa Mcbroom
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 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 th ...more
Aug 10, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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. ...more
Feb 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What an amazing book. A mother whose lifelong dream is to be a jazz singer (this is in the 50s - 60s). She has a regular performance at a small nightclub, but just can't hit the bigtime. Her ten-year old daughter adores her mother and yearns for more attention from her. Fortunately, Mom's photographer friend Jim is always there to help take care of the daughter, Sophia. The Mother (Naomi) has a string of boyfriends (and lady friends) who come and go, staying overnight, then it is on to the next ...more
Laura Findlay
Aug 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a great listen, though I kind of wish I had read it, to immerse myself in it more. One of the more original books I've read this year. I like Naomi and Sofia's stories. It isn't a particularly happy read but it's wonderfully written. I didn't really understand why the author decided to end it in that way but other than that it was a great piece of historical fiction. ...more
Jan 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
WOW...this book was good, really good. The back and forth of the lives of the mother and daughter finally coming together at the end was amazing.
Apr 27, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Carrie Kikel
Nov 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brand new author. What an amazing read! So many fantastic characters so much truthful interaction. The story is complex and mesmerizing. Obviously incredibly well researched. But again, the characters! It was so hard to leave them when I finished. I have to see if she’s written something new!
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
Tia Bach
May 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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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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