Courtney Duke Foster

Passing Notes

A Novel

“Jim Crow don’t live in New York!” That’s what did it, the magic words Cheryl Wilson’s best friend, Bettie, said to convince her to leave her family and a good teaching job behind.  Determined to snag secretarial jobs at a new publishing company and open the door to a world of opportunities closed to them back home, the two young women board a train bound for the Big Apple.  They soon discover, however, that career prospects for most Negroes were as limited in 1951 New York as in the segregated south.  Then things take a turn when Cheryl is offered a position with real advancement potential—but only if she can keep the truth about her background a secret.  As she learns to manage the constant anxiety that comes with living a lie, things get even more complicated when she falls for a passionate young editor with a hair-trigger temper.  Will she succeed at living a double life?  Or will she lose everything in the process?

New Author

Courtney Duke Foster

Courtney is a lawyer/mom by day, turned fiction writer/mom by night, and day, and all the time.  Her storytelling career started early when she would tell her very loving and patient grandmother every word and detail of movies and television shows she had seen.  Bitten by the writer bug a few years ago, she has written dozens of poems and short stories. Two of her short stories have been published in Bay to Ocean.

 A graduate of Spelman College and Duke University School of Law, Courtney grew up in Maryland, where she lives with her two awesome daughters and an extremely snuggly cat.  In her spare time, she enjoys, well, writing stories, but also watching movies and attending musicals and comedy shows.  She loves the art of storytelling in all forms.

 Photography by: Paul Jones,


Alexis Clark

Journalist and Author of Enemies in Love: A German POW, A Black Nurse, and an Unlikely Romance

“Passing Notes is a clever love story about life’s unexpected detours. Tackling race, class and skin color in 1950s New York City, Courtney Duke Foster takes us on a journey filled with wit, drama and history.”

Wanda S. Lloyd

Author of COMING FULL CIRCLE: From Jim Crow to Journalism

“Courtney Duke Foster’s Passing Notes kept me up all night — turning pages, captivated to see what would happen in each new chapter. This tender love story enlightens and entertains. It reminds us of the era of racial and gender separation, yet shows the fortitude and brilliance of people who were not expected to be so. The ending will surprise you.”

Alice Osborn

Author of Heroes without Capes

“You won’t easily forget Courtney Duke Foster’s debut novel Passing Notes, thanks to the author’s sharp and authentic observations… Perfectly paced, Passing Notes grips you from the beginning and holds you in suspense.

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