The Goodtime Girl is set in the 20s in Asia Minor and Greece. It tells the general story of the destruction of the city of Smyrna by fire in 1922, and the particular story of Kivelli, a young woman from a respected Smyrnean family, who flees to Piraeus following the devastation. Kivelli is the only one of her family to have survived the fire, the crossing, and finds herself on the mainland alone, bereft. She is discovered in the box of an opera house by the Madame of a working class brothel, but is saved from the whore’s fate by a passing man who hears her singing out the window. He invites her to sing at his nearby tavern and here Kivelli is introduced to underworld of Piraeus and to the gangster Greek men who live by its code — alternately honorable and violent.
Through Kivelli we meet Marianthi, wife of a Smyrnean composer. And through both women’s eyes we become enamored with Diamantis, a local composer and singer who causes a rupture in Kivelli and Marianthi’s bond. The Goodtime Girl tells the story of Kivelli’s life among dangerous men; of her status as a refugee and an outcast among Greeks and among other women; of her memories of Smyrna and the fire, which she refuses to talk about during the day, but which play themselves out in her dreams; of her friendship with Marianthi based on need, love and rivalry; and finally of her fall from the grace of Smyrna and her subsequent rebirth in Piraeus. Unlike Smyrna, Kivelli rises again; singing lifts her momentarily out of the darkness that surrounded her after the fire, and turns her into a character from a novel she’d forgotten she’d read.
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