Book of the Week | Whistling Women by Kelly Romo

cover69242-mediumTITLE: Whistling Women

AUTHOR: Kelly Romo

PUBLISHER: Lake Union Publishing

RELEASE DATE: November 17, 2015

GENRE: Women’s Fiction, General Fiction


Set against the backdrop of the 1935 world’s fair, Whistling Women explores the complex relationships between sisters, the sacrifices required to protect family, and the devastating consequences of a single impulsive act.

Kelly Romo’s assured and compelling debut novel, Whistling Women (Lake Union; November 17, 2015), takes readers back in time nearly a century to an America where economic pressures and shifting societal norms were shaping a new world. Centered on two indomitable female characters—a long absent aunt and the niece she never knew she had—this wholly original historical novel brings to life San Diego, circa 1935, as its dazzling world’s fair provides the backdrop for a story of family, fidelity, and the choices women have been forced to make to protect themselves and those they love.

After a life of downturns and narrow escapes, Addie Bates has found refuge in an unusual place. The Sleepy Valley Nudist Colony, north of San Francisco, is the brainchild of Heinrich, a German naturist with forward thinking ideas. To promote the benefits of his lifestyle—and the money that would come with an increase in visitors—Heinrich transports the colonists south to San Diego, where they will be an “exhibit” at the California Pacific International Exposition. Addie is reluctant to go, not out of any sense of modesty, but because she has a secret past connection with the city. She moved there as a teenage orphan to live with her then newly married sister, Wavey. Wavey—who for years returned Addie’s letters unopened until the younger sister finally gave up writing—still lives there. With trepidation, Addie hopes for a reconciliation.

What Addie does not know is that Wavey has not one daughter, as she remembers, but two. Rumor, the younger girl, is spirited and inquisitive, and when she encounters the stranger at the door who bears a striking family resemblance, she is intent on figuring out who this stranger is. But, Wavey refuses to tell her daughters anything or even admit that she has a sister. Determined to discover the truth, fifteen-year-old Rumor resorts to petty subterfuge in an effort to piece together the puzzle of the past. What she does not know, and no one is ready to tell her, is that Addie’s transgressions extend to the greatest sin of all: murder.

Steeped in meticulous research that brings Depression-era San Diego and the wonders and oddities of its famed world’s fair to life, and told with great poignancy and candor, Whistling Women underscores the limited choices that women had, not so long ago, in charting their own destinies. (Description found on

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