Friday Nights at Honeybee's

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Dial Press, 2003 - Fiction - 306 pages
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Everyone who’s anyone in the Harlem music scene has heard of Honeybee McColor and the famous Friday night gathers that fill her brownstone to bursting. In the early 1960s, nowhere but “The Big House” attracts so many renowned jazz and blues musicians--and no one but Miss Honeybee attracts such talented lost souls as Forestine Bent and Viola Bembrey.

The two women come from opposite worlds: one from the Brooklyn projects, the other from the Baptist, rural South. Both know that they belong elsewhere. A rare and extraordinary singer, Forestine aims to be a star. And Viola, stifled by her religious upbringing, strains to find freedom. But Forestine’s single-mindedness endangers the one person she really loves, while Viola blindly finds comfort in a man whose wild ways threaten to consume her.

With the help of Miss Honeybee and her remarkable friends--Willa, known for her talent both in the kitchen and on the piano, and the outrageous Vernon, who looks more elegant in a gown than any woman--Forestine and Viola struggle to find the balancing point where music doesn’t overpower love.

How these women fight their private wars, separately and together, is the emotional core of Andrea Smith’s eloquent and vibrant debut. With a cast of characters as compassionate as they are unique, this unforgettable novel overflows with energy, heart, and humanity.

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About the author (2003)

Andrea Smith has received fellowships from the Frederick Douglass Creative Arts Center and the New York Foundation for the Arts. She was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, and now lives in Georgia with her eight-year-old son.

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