Good to Her by Enid Harlow

Good to Her by Enid Harlow
Publisher: Strategic Book Publishing and Rights Co.
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (305 pages)
Heat Level: spicy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Lavender

Good to Her is a historical literary novel set against the backdrop of the famous New York City restaurant, Dinty Moore’s, which stood at the corner of 46th Street just off Broadway for some 50 years. Enlivened by the irascible character of the restaurant’s real-life proprietor, James “Dinty” Moore, the novel takes readers back to the days of Prohibition and the police raids foisted on Moore’s establishment, often resulting in his compulsory appearance in court. The novel moves forward through 1964, exploring the changing political and social life of the times, and focusing on the marriage of Nate Neumann, a successful New York City businessman, and Sallie, his much younger wife. Having fled the confines of small-town Indiana, Sallie comes to New York with dreams of becoming an actress. She meets Nate in Dinty Moore’s. Sallie is 20 and fresh off the farm. Nate is 46 and instantly smitten. The story is brightened by appearances or references to celebrities who frequent the place such as Walter Winchell, Lauren Bacall, and Humphrey Bogart. Sallie is prone to telling Nate how Good to Her he is. Nate wonders, Is he really?

He was good to her, or was he? That was the question on his mind for almost two decades.

Nate is a regular upper-middle class guy who works hard and is in love with a much younger woman. He does his best to make his young wife happy but has doubts. Meeting her at the close of World War II, he focuses on how to be a good husband. The reader follows his internal goings on from the roaring twenties and the bootlegging days of his friends through the forties, fifties, and sixties, when unspeakable tragedy strikes. The setting, a New York City restaurant, is fascinating with all the little details that go into painting a vivid picture. The reader is treated to an inside look of celebrities of that era. It’s like stepping into that place, that timeless restaurant with its quirky owner.

Nate’s friends inhabit the story with their colorful personalities. Some are great, and some…well, they don’t approve of the love of Nate’s life, Sallie, a farm girl who came to New York to find her fame in dancing and acting.

Nate is so charming and kind. Sallie is vivacious. At first, she comes across as self-centered and shallow, but she grows and shows an interesting side to her personality. One finds out early in the book that she’s destined to die, but near the end, her last day is played out in detail.

The book jumps around in time a lot and gives many mundane details, but those details enable a reader to experience the scene up close. Emotions are easily felt due to the hand of the talented author. For anyone who enjoys vintage stories with realism weaved throughout, give this book a try.

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