First there were fireworks, then there were stars. The stars turned into a sea of cartoon creatures dancing a jig, and now they’re joining up to form a chorus line.
In short, YAY!!!
Designer Gabriele Wilson chose my NaNoWriMo novel for the 30 Days, 30 Covers challenge, and I love what she did.
The View from Upper High Hog, by Caroline Bridges:
New York, 1954. Jazz Age, Atomic Age, Space Age — meh. The Great Betty Noire (a.k.a. Bebe Rosenthal) figures she’s seen it all. Life on the big time Vaudeville circuit gave this broad an extra broad perspective, not to mention the chutzpa to fight. She’s been through wars one and two and enough husbands to form a chorus line. She’s up for anything.
Therefore, when her latest husband leaves her widowed with no further claim to the cottage on his wealthy employer’s estate, Bebe knows just what to do. Her fans must be clamoring after her long hiatus. She’ll call her agent and get back to her proper place in the world — the stage.
Unfortunately, yet a few more things seem to have gone on hiatus since last she saw Manhattan: the Age of Vaudeville and her ability to find a role.
With no money to speak of and nowhere to go, Bebe finds herself lured by an offer from her late husband’s employer: Give up her cottage, and they’ll give her a job with a handsome wage, lots of time off, and travel. She just has to be ready to start the next day. Sounds great for a gal who loves her freedom!
Then she finds herself herded onto an Arizona-bound train with her previously undisclosed responsibility shoved into her arms. To Bebe’s horror, she realizes it’s her employer’s newly-orphaned niece, Tatiana, a four-year-old who draws attention with her crazy orange hair, ugly duckling face, and constant babbling in Russian, a dead giveaway of her Auntie Kate’s secret past on the wrong side of the Iron Curtain.
That Aunt Katya — Bebe figures she’s a smart one, killing two broads with one stone, setting her burdens adrift on an ice floe. Thus, Bebe begins her new life as hapless guardian to an alien life form in an alien land — the dust and neon planet of 1950s Route 66. She’s caught between the needs of the child, a feud between Aunt Katya and the equally hostile headmistress of the child’s school, and her own urgent need to escape what she dubs The Jackalope Circuit.
In a series of misadventures, including stalking famous musicians, sending hate mail to Betty Hutton for stealing her schtick, and and trying to form a theater company using the residents of a flea-bag motel, Bebe struggles single mindedly to reclaim her former glory, independence, and relevance in the world.
Meanwhile, the newly-renamed child, Elizabeth, looks on, trying to make sense of this equally alien new world and longing for Bebe to give her the stability, home, and love she’s never had. Against the backdrop of the burgeoning Cold War, the two dream of their own versions of happily ever after, or Upper High Hog, as Bebe puts it. And Bebe fights against what she considers the scariest age of all—old age.
Gabriele Wilson is an art director, designer and teacher at Parsons School of Design. She currently runs her design studio in New York City and her new year’s resolution is to finally design her website: gabrielewilson.com.