Originally published by Bantam Books and hailed by critics, this love story, set in 1950s New York, Havana, and the deep south, begins with a divorce. In the eyes of Christie, their young daughter, Leo, and Tina Klein, mismatched and volatile, belong together.
Leo, a charming rogue and a player in New York’s garment industry, skates too close to the mob. Tina, a leftist activist who regularly pickets on behalf of the disadvantaged, has appointed herself manager of Joseph (“Ivory Joe”) Coulter, an ex boxer and a heart-busting black musician at a turning point in popular music history.
Meg Wolitzer wrote in the New York Times: “Mr. Burke weaves a deft plot involving the attempted theft of one of Ivory Joe’s songs, ‘Ghost Lover,’ and the ensuing escapades are frantic and convincing….Martyn Burke knows his territory and he keeps a jazzed up pace appropriate to the story and the era. …A real pleasure.”
Mafia infiltration of the record industry in the early days of rock 'n' roll provides the basis for this funny, wonderfully affecting novel. Leo Klein, who owns a New York garment company, occupies himself with nightclubs, parties, horse racing and show girls when he's not fighting with wildly incompatible ex-wife Tina. A larger-than-life figure, Tina does impulsive things like picketing Leo's factory and appointing herself manager of Joseph (``Ivory Joe'') Coulter, a black, streetsmart rocker and ex-boxer with a knack for driving teen audiences into a frenzy. Burke ( Laughing War ) ingeniously interweaves the main story line with flashbacks to the 1930s and '40s, and with the narration of precocious nine-year-old Christie, whose mother drags her and sister Ruthie along on trips up to Harlem and on concert tours of the virulently racist 1950s South. As Christie schemes to reunite her parents, Leo sneakily fights to win custody, gambles in Havana and gets in over his head with the mob. If the writing often seems tailored to Hollywood tastes, this is still a raucous rock extravaganza with heart and soul. Film rights sold to Alan Ladd Productions.