cover image Passing Love

Passing Love

Jacqueline E. Luckett. Grand Central, $14.99 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-0-446-54299-9

It’s midnight in Paris, now and in the mid–20th century, in Luckett’s second novel (after Searching for Tina Turner). In this dreamy and lyrical paean to all things French, a restless African-American woman with a French name (Nicole-Marie Roxane, 56), shucks routine and expectations to live out her dream of traveling to Paris. But her exotic getaway turns into a relentless search for a beautiful woman known to Nicole only from an old photo, Ruby Garrett, whose race and connection to her father are both mysterious. In alternating narratives, Nicole uncovers secrets long held by her difficult parents, as the ferociously independent Ruby describes the freewheeling Paris of the early 1950s, where ambitious black musicians found an appreciative audience and colorblind acceptance. Luckett skips surprisingly smoothly across six decades as the narrative unfolds the mystery of Nicole’s identity. But the mystery is hardly the point: Luckett weaves a fascinating portrait of women of color who defy family and tradition to follow love and chase success. Ruby’s unflinching, unapologetic choices—even her lies about her race—unsettle Nicole. But Ruby is equally puzzled that Nicole would choose the ordinary over adventure. In the end, it’s the soulful, headstrong, romantic Ruby whose passion resonates in this story of discovery and acceptance. (Jan. 25)