Thursday, August 11, 2011


My primary requirement in a book is a good story. Midnight on Julia Street by Ciji Ware is a great one.

Corlis has been fired from her job--again.

A crusading TV reporter, Corlis doesn't care whose toes she steps on when she's pursuing a story, and she pays the price. This latest job in New Orleans is the fourth one she's lost. Not helping matters is her encounter with Kingston, her college nemesis, at the scene of her latest debacle. Twelve years ago at UCLA, feminist school paper reporter Corlis and sexist frat boy King fought a no-holds barred ideological battle that resulted in King's expulsion from the college. Now's he's a professor of architectural history with the mission to save an historic city block from a greedy real estate developer.

Both Corlis and King have mellowed in the intervening years. Corlis is no longer strident, and a stint in the marines obeying women officers has divested King of his chauvinist tendencies. Softer feelings now come to the fore. King even helps Corlis get another job. But flashbacks to antebellum New Orleans trouble Corlis. These visions send her back to when the buildings now under dispute were constructed. Her ancestor, another Corlis, lived in New Orleans then, and the other characters in the visions are also ancestors of people living today. Feelings run high over the preservation battle and find their mirror in Corlis and King's emotions, which make an about-face from their college days.

Midnight on Julia Street is an exciting, face-paced story loaded with historic and contemporary detail about New Orleans. Ms. Ware does a masterful job of interweaving the past when the buildings were constructed and the present when they may be demolished. She brings two very different eras to vivid life, leaving you wondering how the historical story will play out even though we already know the end.

As for the characters, I love Corlis. She's my kind of woman. Smart, educated, strong, an outspoken professional who stands up for what she believes in and always remains true to herself. I also like King, who has learned the error of his sexist ways to become an honorable man and the perfect match for Corlis. Watching them as they seek to deny their attraction while the preservation battle throws them together is another layer of drama in this riveting novel.

The third character is hot, humid, New Orleans. The issues facing the slave-owning French past of Corlis's visions are an eerie premonition of the problems of the modern city.

Ciji Ware's books are fantastic. Midnight on Julia Street proves that again.

Thank you all,
ARC provided by Sourcebooks


catslady said...

I don't usually read too many contemporaries but your review makes it sound more than just that - I was able to visit New Orleans twice and I like the idea of hearing about the city and of course, liking the character is very important to me. Thanks!

Linda Banche said...

catslady, the book is about half historical and half contemporary. I don't usually read contemporary, either, but if more comtemps were like this one, I would.