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The Champagne Ladies

A Once-Peaceful Neighborhood is Torn by Unrest in the Summer of ‘68

My debut novel, “The Champagne Ladies,”

is available at Amazon.com. Purchase it here.

 

Why would the police not care about a murder case?” Ben asked.

“It’s not a murder case,” Joey said.

“I think it is.”

“You’re the only one.”

* * * 

Chicago, summer of 1968: Two young, sexy strangers named Rita and Sandra move to the city from a small rural community.

At first, no one knows why they choose the solidly conservative Little Village neighborhood as their home. Fifteen-year-old Ben Podlowski doesn’t care; he adopts them as his mentors. His friend, Joey Baloney, is convinced that these two attractive women must be Playboy bunnies.

The super-patriotic Ludmilla Kozak, self-appointed guardian of all that is wholesome, believes Rita and Sandra are subversives intent on destroying life in Little Village. Ben’s deeply religious father warns Ben to stay away from them because they’ll lead him to sin. Others view their arrival, coupled with an influx of Mexican immigrants, as a threat to the stability of a traditional Eastern European neighborhood.

Rita and Sandra’s goal is simple: make a difference in people’s lives. They do, but not in the way they expect. And they never think they’ll be involved in a murder that isn’t solved for 10 years. The summer ends with a devastating fire, which incompetent investigators rule an accident. But Ben never abandons his belief that it was deliberately set, and ten years later he enlists Joey Baloney to discover who was behind it.

“The Champagne Ladies,” set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War and the approaching Democratic National Convention, explores the fears of the old and hopes of the young as “the whole world is watching” traditional values disappear. It depicts the anguish when family members are torn apart by their separate beliefs on race, religion and individual freedom.

Ben never forgets the lesson he learned from Rita and Sandra that summer: Stay true to your own values, no matter how often they’re tested. Ten years later they teach him another value, the power of forgiveness, which erases his tragic memories and brings him happiness at last.

“The Champagne Ladies” is the debut novel of Gregg Cebrzynski, an award-winning journalist who has worked at newspapers and magazines in and around Chicago. He grew up in Little Village and now lives on the North Side of Chicago.

“The Champagne Ladies,” priced at $2.99, is available on Kindle devices and Kindle apps for iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, PC, Mac, BlackBerry and Android-based devices.

 

 

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