Set during the Great Depression, Sarah Bird's Last Dance on the Starlight Pier is a novel about one woman—and a nation—struggling to be reborn from the ashes.
The daughter of a famous vaudevillian dancer, Evie Grace Devlin is pushed onto the stage at a young age and dubbed the toe-dancing “Pint-Sized Pavlova.” Evie hates the glare of the spotlight, no matter how much her fame-obsessed mother forces her into it. A scholarship to study nursing at a Catholic hospital in Galveston, Texas provides Evie with her only hope of escape.
However, just as Evie is about to be certified, secrets from her past are revealed and she is cast out. It’s 1932, and she is just one more casualty of the Great Depression, wandering a nation struggling with massive unemployment, economic failure, and government ineptitude. With no choice but to return to her roots, Evie finds work—as an unregistered nurse—looking after a troupe of marathon dancers. Unexpectedly she is thrust back where she doesn’t want to be: in front of screaming, adoring audiences.
Though the screams are for her partner, Zave Cassidy, the “Handsome Hoofer Evie’s talent soon comes to light. Winning over audiences with their fancy moves and implied romance, they make headlines across the country. Off stage, Evie and Zave grow closer, sharing their dreams, and planning a future together. But Galveston in the thirties is a place of dark glamour and dangerous plots where secrets can ignite and consume dreams, love, and, yes, even lives.
“These pages brim with primal energy.”—National Book Critics’ Circle Award-winning author Ben Fountain
"Poignant." - Houston Chronicle
"Texas author Sarah Bird constructs curious dreamscapes." - Austin American Stateman
"Bird is a master at crafting narrative voices." - Booklist
"Sarah Bird ruthlessly strips away the shallow glamour of marathon dancing, exposing cynical, cash-driven machinations founded on desperate poverty and run by chiselers. [...] Yet, in the people who inhabit the dance floor, Bird creates a cast of fully realized, compassionate human beings." - The Dallas Morning News
"Blending the enthralling world of dance marathons during the Great Depression, with characters based on famous and Galvestonian from the 1930s, Last Dance on the Starlight Pier by award-winning author Sarah Bird might just become one of the most popular beach-reads of 2022." - Galveston Monthly Magazine
"Inspiring and hopeful, the latest from 2014 Texas Writer Award recipient and Texas Literary Hall of Fame inductee Sarah Bird is a must-read." - Tribeza
"Last Dance on the Starlite Pier brings to raucous life the dance marathons of the Great Depression, a lowdown world of strivers, grifters, innocents, and gangsters all trying to survive the hardest of hardscrabble times. These pages brim with primal energy, the story propelled by life-or-death stakes and the most vivid cast of characters you could ever hope to meet. Sarah Bird has given us a barnburner--or should I say pier burner?--of a novel that satisfies on every level." --Ben Fountain, author of Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk and National Book Critics' Circle Award Winner
"I was swept away by this nuanced portrait....Last Dance on the Starlight Pier is a reminder of our resilience." --Janet Skeslien Charles, New York Times bestseller of The Paris Library
"Last Dance on the Starlight Pier is like a rediscovered movie from the 1930s, starring a colorful cast of indelible characters from the indomitable heroine Evie Grace Drake to the low-rent showbiz types grabbing for the brass ring and the menacing wise guys who controlled the real-life Boardwalk Empire of Galveston, Texas in 1932. It’s a poignant, beautifully written story of troubled times and troubled hearts.” --Alan Brennert, bestselling author of Daughter of Moloka’i and Moloka’i
"An engaging and moving story of second chances and told with care and compassion. So relevant to our times and yet wholly and skillfully transportive to the world of yesteryear. Well done!" --Susan Meissner, author of The Nature of Fragile Things
"I loved this gorgeous and deeply compassionate novel! Take a front row seat to the astonishing world of Depression-era dance marathons---where the poor and the struggling could distract themselves from their troubles, and where former vaudevillians could keep being paid. Sarah Bird brings the 1930s to vivid, technicolor life, and Bird's characters--especially aspiring nurse Evie Grace--will dance away with your heart." -Stacy Swann, author Olympus,Texas (Good Morning America Pick)
"Last Dance on the Starlight Pier tells a deeply touching story in which down and out Evie sees truth triumphs, right is restored, and evil vanquished—a story that also is, in part, about the tragic consequences of failed leadership. A story resonant with our own time. Sarah Bird well represents what marathons were as performance, the type of people who promoted and danced in them and the atmosphere of an era that continues to play out in the 21st century." --Carol Martin, author of Dance Marathons: Performing American culture of the 1920s and 1930s and Theatre of the Real.