Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Little Shadows - Marina Endicott

Here is the eagerly anticipated new novel from a brilliant writer whose last book, Good to a Fault, was shortlisted for the prestigious Giller Prize and won the Commonwealth Prize for Canada and the Caribbean.

The Little Shadows revolves around three sisters in the world of vaudeville before and during the First World War. We follow the lives of all three in turn: Aurora, the eldest and most beautiful, who is sixteen when the book opens; thoughtful Clover, a year younger; and the youngest sister, joyous headstrong sprite Bella, who is thirteen. The girls, overseen by their fond but barely coping Mama, are forced to make their living as a singing act after the untimely death of their father. They begin with little besides youth and hope, but Marina Endicott’s genius is to show how the three girls slowly and steadily evolve into true artists even as they navigate their way to adulthood among a cast of extraordinary characters – some of them charming charlatans, some of them unpredictable eccentrics, and some of them just ordinary-seeming humans with magical gifts.

Using her gorgeous prose and extraordinary insight, Endicott lures us onto the brightly lit stage and then into the little shadows that lurk behind the curtain, and reveals how the art of vaudeville -- in all its variety, madness, melodrama, hilarity and sorrow -- echoes the art of life itself.  


A beautiful poetic novel of what the vaudeville or theatre might have been in historic western Canada and the northwest U.S.A., in particularly Montana. The story follows three girls and their mother after the death of the father as they go into the world their mother knew before she met their father.  Each scene and each character is portrayed in vivid colors, both their good attributes as well as the eccentric.  Although i don’t know much about the world of actors either then or now, it seems like the author did a lot of research to make it authentic.

Personally i found it very dry, tedious reading, with so much attention to detail, and a lot of conversations.  There really wasn’t any plot, unless you consider the everyday life of people aspiring to stardom through entertaining others a plot.

I received this novel from the publisher through Netgalley for review. I was not required to give a positive review in order to receive it, just an honest one.

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