Different generations of Americans each have their own individual era, a time when they were growing and events that colored their lives. These events help to create and define the individuals and their beliefs as they continue to age.
In Richard Sharp’s The Duke Don’t Dance, we follow a group of friends and acquaintances that were born just after the shadow of the Great Depression and the beginning of World War II. Known as the Silent Generation, they came of age toward the end of the war. Baby Boomers as they are called are the children of the Greatest Generation as we know them, but also in some cases the children of the Silent Generation were also born at the end of that era. This Silent Generation are the ones who invented rock and roll, pushed forth the struggle for racial equality, and are at the bottom of the sexual revolution.
In this journal of growth we follow a group of seven friends as they embark on life’s little pleasures and the interconnections as they move throughout their time from young adults to adulthood. Often loving and other times hating, they are connected through each other and their pasts. Through the Cold War and peace, and living though the drug culture, they are entertaining and irascible.
Richard Sharp has given us characters that are annoying, or fun, brave and talented, and just a bit out of their depth. You may recognize many of the characteristics in those you know, and understand the feeling of inadequacy they all seem to share. There are no sacred elephants with this group of survivors and there is no shortage of problems.
Throughout the story they continue to move on only to have to seek help from one or the other of this interesting cast. Even distance and time does not sever their ties, and even when they have wronged the other, after the initial shaft of betrayal, the characters move on only to understand how better to watch their backs.
Sharp takes you on a journey through the times and touches on history and events, all the while creating interesting scenarios to engage his characters, creating an understanding and believability to their actions.
If you enjoy historical facts and events, and the characterization of the different generations, you will find this a great novel. If you enjoy the interaction of characters that interconnect throughout their lifetimes, this is a marvelous find.
This would be a good story for a reading group, a great discussion piece, and a place to ask questions. The events and history speak for themselves, and the characters help to clarify the times.