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Penguin UK

Sweet, Soft, Plenty Rhythm

Sweet, Soft, Plenty Rhythm

Finalist of the 2023 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction


Love is messy. Love can make us feel alive. It can also bring us down. Sometimes we look for it in all the wrong places. This is a novel about longing, desire and dreams; about passion and risk and all the places in between.

Maggie is pregnant with Circus Palmer's child. This may be her last chance, but she craves her freedom.

Pia is Circus's ex-wife, still in love with the fantasy of the man who conjured jazz tunes for her into the night, but who left many years before.

Koko, Circus's daughter, is lost in the maelstrom of teenage years, the confusion of awakening desire and yearning for the father she barely knows.

Peach is a barmaid who just wants someone to see the person she is inside.

Odessa is on the run from a mistake that can't be undone.

And then there's Circus, Circus Palmer, a jazz trumpeter whose moment of glory is fading. Selfish, damaged, scared, perhaps the only person Circus is fooling is himself.

Delivered in a lush orchestration of diverse female voices, Sweet, Soft, Plenty Rhythm is a provocative and gripping novel about the desire to be loved, and the need to belong.

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