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October 12, 2023

The Roaring Days of Zora Lily by Noelle Salazar ~ A Review

by Susan Roberts

The discovery of a hidden label on a famous gown unearths the story of a talented young seamstress in this glittering novel of family, love, ambition, and self-discovery.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

book cover of historical romance novel The Roaring Days of Zora Lily by Noelle Salazar
October 2023; MIRA; 978-0778305309
audio, ebook, print (416 pages); historical romance

This historical fiction book is very well written and researched.  It's a dual timeline book but not really.  The modern-day part of the story is only about 10% of the novel to introduce Zora and the mystery surrounding her at the beginning and the result of the research at the end.  Most of the story is about the transformation of a quiet shy poor girl who takes in sewing to becoming a well-known designer who manages to find love along the way while constantly fighting her feelings of not being good enough no matter what success she is having.

In 2023, Sylvia is a conservator for the Smithsonian.  She is in charge of a group working on a presentation of the clothes worn in a movie that came out in the 1920s.  Every piece of clothing had to be perfect which meant repairing tears and sewing sequins back on.  When she is working on a dress worn by Greta Garbo in the movie, the label of the dress designer falls out and she sees the name Zora Lily under the tag.  This is enough to make her want to research who Zora Lily was and why her name is on the movie dresses.

We first meet Zora in 1924.  She lives an improvised life with her mother, alcoholic father, and 6 siblings.  She spends her days repairing dresses with her mother even as she dreams of designing dresses.  One night her friend Rose talks her into going out to a club and it begins to change Zora.  She enjoys the freedom and when she gets a job as a nanny for a rich couple, she sees how rich people live.  The more she is around people other than her family, the more she is sure that she needs to follow her dreams and become more self-reliant.  Her ambition even takes her to Hollywood but is the fame worth losing her family and her dreams?  She has to make major decisions about what she really wants out of life and whether the cost of the dreams is worth making them come true.

I loved the character of Zora.  She remained true to herself even when she was put into difficult situations.  Her family remained her touchstone and she was always happiest when she was with them.  Her romance is really exciting even though I was never sure of what the outcome would be and if there was too much difference between Zora and Harley to keep them from having their happily ever after.

The other thing that I found exciting about this book was the description of the clothes.  The clothes Zora designed for the women in the clubs and for a Hollywood movie and how her experience made her an even better seamstress and designer.  I ended up googling a lot of the fashion from this time in history so that I could picture what was being described.

This book is a tremendous coming-of-age novel full of fantastic characters and descriptions of lots of beautiful clothes.  I highly recommend it!

Susan Roberts grew up in Michigan but loves the laid-back life at her home in the Piedmont area of North Carolina where she is two hours from the beach to the east and the mountains in the west.  She reads almost anything but her favorite genres are Southern Fiction and Historical Fiction.   

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