#72 – The Little Shadows – Marina Endicott

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. – Publishers Website

I was immersed from the first page.  I loved Marina’s one  book  I had read as well, which won me a Sony reader from the CBC Book Club that I love and adore so much ! Marina was nominated for the Giller Prize in 2010 for her novel – Good To A Fault, where one question stood out for me – Would you allow people who you didn’t know into your home while a loved one was in the hospital because they had no other place to go?  I know now, it is quite difficult to say or no immediately, but, it is a valid question.  Would you?.

So, The Little Shadows follows three young sisters on their voyage to stardom to vaudeville traveling  circuit with their Mother, after their father has passed away.  This is their only means of securing money to be able to live, or to have a home to go back to.  Since their mother was in the circuit years ago, she meets friends and uses her past connections to get the girls work.  Traveling from coast to coast and to the USA for gigs. it is hard work; going from town to town where there is a theatre, auditioning, finding a place to stay that isn’t too expensive.  Along the way, friends and foes also grace the stages of these places.  Some are friendly, some are only out for themselves.

There was one particular character that I prayed would show his face again, man I disliked him so much ! I was so upset at how he treated everyone that he came into contact with.  When you read the book, tell me in the comments who you thought it was after you are finished reading it.  I am curious to see who it was you thought I was talking about.

Marina transported me back to WWI into the circuit that this and many other families have traveled.  The people made famous from doing the circuit.  The last show where everyone would possibly go their ways here and there.  The backstabbing that occurred between players and the managers of the theaters.

I still have dreams about the book, vividly imaginative, it will stay with you, or at least I wold hope so.  Marina does an absolutely magnificent job of re-creating the backdrop of the book. I loved the girls’ Mother, who like me is a single mother who is striving for a better life for her children, against the odds.  Doing everything she can and then some to make their dream a reality.  If you are a fan of Historical Fiction, this will be the book for you, like I had stated previously, I had the imagery of the whole book in my head as I read.  Even dreaming about it wasn’t so bad either !

Good To A Fault also won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best Book, Canada and the Caribbean.

GoodreadsMarina’s WebsiteRead an ExcerptMarina on Twitter




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