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  • Writer's pictureKellie Burke

Review: The Davenports

Updated: Jul 24, 2023

The Davenports by Krystal Marquis

Image of the book cover with a yellow background, a man and woman in the foreground also wearing yellow, and three women standing behind them.

A formerly enslaved man, William Davenport has grown his business to become one of the few wealthy Black families in Chicago. At the turn of the century his children have grown up in privilege and are often sheltered from the reality of most Black Americans, though have an understanding that their wealth only offers so much protection in 1910 America.

Focusing on the two Davenport daughters, their wealthy friend, and their maid the story examines how 4 young Black women trying to chart their own path amongst the many limits placed on them by family and society.

My Thoughts

While there is romance and love triangles, The Davenports is really about a changing America and the tensions between generations, specifically within the Black community. The younger characters feel constrained by the expectations put on them, whether it’s in who they marry or their careers. The Davenport son and youngest daughter Helen want to transform their father’s carriage business into automobiles; their father pushes back, especially with Helen who is expected to conform to gender roles. Oldest daughter Olivia is happy to find a suitable husband until her eyes are opened by an activist who teaches her about the growing threat of Jim Crow laws. Industrialization, segregation, trauma of slavery: Krystal Marquis effortlessly weaves these important themes of U.S. history into her story.

Book Information

Author: Krystal Marquis

Publisher: Dial Books

Publish Date: January 31, 2023

Genre(s): Historical Fiction

Themes: coming of age, family, racism

Protagonist Description: 4 young Black women

Trigger Warnings: discussion of racism, violence

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