Love, lies and loneliness color 1920s life in Amber Brock’s debut novel

The 1920s are often associated with glittering style and glamorous parties, but under the surface, there was great struggle.

“That era between the wars was an extraordinary time of change. As a society, we were also feeling unrest,” said Amber Brock, who will appear at the AJC Decatur Book Festival on Sept. 4.

In her debut novel, “A Fine Imitation” (Crown, $26), set in Prohibition-era Manhattan, Brock sets out to explore those feelings of unrest both in society and in the life of Vera Bellington, a pedigreed beauty whose insulated world has become a whirlwind of alcohol-fueled social events and nights spent alone while her husband roams.

Though Vera’s life is not in anyway autobiographical — Brock had been to New York only once before writing the book and has had her share of financial challenges — the author says the emotions that Vera experiences are universal.

“What I was hoping would come through is that sorrow is still sorrow and joy is still joy and those are the things that make us empathetic towards one another and help us connect,” Brock said.

When a mysterious artist, Emil Hallan, arrives from Paris to paint a mural above the pool in the residence owned by Vera’s husband, Vera, an art lover who studied at Vassar College, has to decide between clinging to societal conventions or risking everything.

For Brock, having choices is what matters the most.

“I teach at an all-girls school (in Atlanta), so I am really mindful of the expectations society puts on them and the challenges women are facing in the world,” Brock said. “Do you live by expectations set by others or do you go your own way? It is healthy and good to take advice and reach out to people who have experience, but ultimately our choices are our own.”

Amber Brock will discuss “A Fine Imitation” at 1:15 p.m. Sept. 4 at Marriott Conference Center Auditorium, 130 Clairmont Ave.

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