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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Books Read in February

Serendipity by Louise Shaffer

I was so lost in the world of old Broadway that this book describes that I almost missed my bus!

This is by a former actress so she knows this world and evokes it very well. The book concerns three generations of women - Carrie, Rose, and Lu - who all have conflicted relationships with their mothers and grandmothers. Carrie, the heroine, is struggling with her mother's death when the book begins. She wants to solve the mystery surrounding Rose. Why did Rose, a beautiful and wealthy socialite, who married a famous writer of musicals and lived a glamorous life donate most of her money to the poor when he died? Why did she bring Carrie up in a small, stuffy apartment in a working-class neighbourhood? Why did she never speak to Lu, her famous actress grandmother?

As Carrie discovers more about Rose's reasons, we also read Rose's and Lu's stories.
All of these women are very strong, American women, but their characters are very different so they are all very easy to read about. Even though the book deals with all of these varied characters, it is not confusing. The transitions are done very smoothly.

Carrie is a very easy heroine to identify with. She is a little bit of a muddler at the start but she gradually gains confidence.

I did like reading about Rose and Lu the best, however. I went to New York thirty years ago and may not go again so it was interesting to imagine the streets and cafes of old Broadway and read about the difficulties of acting and writing musicals.
The writing is vivid so I really felt that I was actually there!

This was also a gentle, soothing book to read. I'll certainly be reading more of Louise Shaffer's books!

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