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Paperback Book Details
  • B098RYTZXF
  • pages
  • $
PD Quaver
Elly Robin : Bird in a Gilded Cage (The Ordeals of Elly Robin)
PD Quaver, author
While studying piano with a famous Italian virtuoso, fifteen-year old prodigy Elly Robin at first considers the patronage of the immensely wealthy LaSalle family a stroke of good fortune. But her social ineptness makes her a laughing stock to the LaSalle children. And Elly soon realizes the ostensibly respectable family harbors terrible secrets.
Plot/Idea: 9 out of 10
Originality: 9 out of 10
Prose: 9 out of 10
Character/Execution: 9 out of 10
Overall: 9.00 out of 10


Plot/Idea: Elly Robin: Bird in a Gilded Cage is the wonderfully written fifth volume of The Ordeals of Elly Robin series. Quaver's acutely observed study of high society is a finely written story of a young piano prodigy that is full of vim and glorious detail.

Prose: Quaver's text is elegantly detailed and precisely orchestrated, full of lush passages of brilliant description rendering an evocative and intoxicating atmosphere. The poetic and lyrical use of language captures both the essence of the characters and the society they inhabit.

Originality: Elly Robin: Bird in a Gilded Cage is intermittently illustrated with highly stylized cartoons that help bring Quaver's story into focus. This confidently conceived latest installment in the Elly Robin series of books contains sharp and astute observations of early 20th century American aristocracy.

Character/Execution: Elly Robin is a fascinating protagonist who clearly does not fit in with the upper echelons of high society. The authentic dialogue and well rounded characters that proliferate the novel fit perfectly in Quaver's world of racial prejudice, power, love and desire or freedom.

Blurb: A brilliantly realized mystery drama.


Date Submitted: April 25, 2024

The mystery-filled fifth installment of Quaver’s Ordeals of Elly Robin series opens, in the years before the first World War, with Elly Robin, the piano prodigy last seen in a New Orleans bawdy house (in Elly Robin in the Big Easy), taking up an offer of mentorship. Considering Elly's asocial nature—she’s a child of trauma and the road, speaking rarely and lacking basic etiquette, though she’s bold, talented, and a whiz at making friends and helping those she cares for—pianist Vittorio Bellini makes a special arrangement for Elly's training in Chicago with Lillian LaSalle, a woman of means and proper decorum, but with an unspoken mutual agreement: Lillian must know nothing of Elly’s past.

Quaver does not indulge in the familiar story of a gifted musician’s quest for fame and fortune, tackling instead pressing issues concerning Elly’s time. This story is a matter of privilege versus poverty. Elly stands in sharp contrast to the LaSalle family, having lived as an orphan, hobo, and a “defective child,” for the sole reason of resembling a mute after losing her parents in the San Francisco earthquake. Her social ineptness becomes especially clear when she’s the butt of the joke among the unenlightened LaSalle children. But Elly's introduction to a group of anarchists kicks off a series of unexpected events involving the LaSalle family, whose garment shops “are some of the worst for hiring the cheapest sorts of labor, mostly young immigrant girls just off the boat, working for almost nothing, afraid to unionize.”

Quaver writes with historical accuracy but is committed to life as it’s lived rather than textbook details. The story teems with timeless insight on racial prejudice, abuse of power, slavery, radical love, and the courage to break free from the “gilded cage” of ignorance and indifference. Quaver’s world-building is razor-sharp, with a diverse cast and resonant reminders of inequality. The plot twists are smartly teased until revealed in quick succession, leaving readers eagerly anticipating the next installment.

Takeaway: A young woman’s enlightening historical adventure, exposing injustice.

Comparable Titles: Heather Wardell’s Fiery Girls, Nancy Zaroulis’s Call the Darkness Light.

Production grades
Cover: A-
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A

Paperback Book Details
  • B098RYTZXF
  • pages
  • $