The Sky Club

Published July 2022

“When I’m dead and buried…you get the hell out of here…Make a life somewhere else…a life that I can’t even imagine.” 

 Jo Salter, a woman from the North Carolina mountains, sets about constructing a new life for herself in Asheville in the wake of her mother’s death. A life that no one—including her mother—could have imagined. 

 Jo has a gift. She is a mathematical prodigy—a woman who sees and thinks in numbers. She secures a job as a teller at Central Bank & Trust, where she recreates herself as a modern woman and rises through the professional ranks. While working at the bank, Jo becomes fascinated by Levi Arrowood, the dark and mysterious manager of the Sky Club, an infamous speakeasy and jazz club on the mountainside above town. 

 When the Great Depression brings Central Bank & Trust down in a seismic crash, Jo is forced to find a new home and job. She finds both at the Sky Club, where she strikes a partnership with the alluring Arrowood as she is drawn deeper into a glamorous and precarious life of bootlegging, jazz, and love.

 The Sky Club is the story of money, greed, and life after the crash from the eyes of one remarkable woman as she creates her own imagined life.

With an uncanny ability to make you feel as if you were there – when the Great Depression hit Asheville – Terry Roberts gives voice to Jo Salter, a fiercely independent woman determined to honor her Mama’s dying request that she create a life hard to imagine. Not since “Memoirs of a Geisha” has a male author portrayed a woman’s life so convincingly.

Mark Kaufman, Story and Song Neighborhood Bookstore Bistro, Fernandino Beach, Florida

“Ever since Terry Roberts took up writing about his ancestors in Western North Carolina, he has produced a remarkably varied and valuable shelf of novels….but  The Sky Club is the best one yet! Wildly original, this is a truly Appalachian novel all about money, sex, drinking, and the Great Depression….along with the more familiar themes of place and family. I especially admire the apparent ease with which Roberts has created the tough, true, funny and unforgettable Jo Salter, an independent pistol of a woman who tells this lively tale set in a speakeasy on top of a mountain.”

Lee Smith, author of Guests on Earth and Oral History

The Sky Club is a wagonload of perilous fun. Terry Roberts has engaged, with customary vigor, many of his favorite themes: local Appalachian history, mountain cultures rural and urban, personal and communal courage, individuality. The resulting story is sprightly and steady in the manner of its heroine, the gifted Jo Salter. Every page here shines with truthful surprise. Bravo!” 

Fred Chappell, author of I Am One of You Forever

The Sky Club portrays diverse, unexpected facets of the Appalachian region in the years of the Great Depression. It is a novel of climbing, social, financial, emotional, romantic, to a mountaintop, to The Sky Club, to risk and wealth, to danger, and, ultimately, to enduring love.”

Robert Morgan, author of Gap Creek and Chasing the North Star

“Roberts has captured a moment in Asheville’s history that to this day affects our way of life. It is a well-told tale, reminiscent of John Ehle’s great novel, Last One Home. I think Ehle would have been proud of The Sky Club.”

Wayne Caldwell, author of Cataloochee and Woodsmoke