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The Little Shadows [Deckle Edge] [Hardcover]

Marina Endicott
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Sept. 27 2011

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.


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Review

A Globe and Mail Best Book

“I don't want to diminish the accomplishment of this book by using tired adjectives of description (brilliant, compelling, rich, dramatic, sexy) or understate the power of the characters (funny, strong, tragic, brave and, yes, sexy) — so I'll simplify: the best book I've read in a long, long time; it deserves to be a contender for every major literary prize this fall."
—CBC.ca, Linden MacIntyre, Author of The Bishop’s Man

Praise for Good to a Fault:

"... absolutely ingenious. As you were going along, you were thinking--turning the pages-- 'This is simply delightful.'" 
— Colm Toibín


About the Author

Marina Endicott's previous novel, Good to a Fault, won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best Book, Canada and the Caribbean, and was a finalist for the prestigious Scotiabank Giller Prize. Her first novel, Open Arms, was shortlisted for the Amazon/Books in Canada First Novel Award. Endicott has been an actor, director, playwright and editor, and now lives in Edmonton, Alberta.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF VAUDEVILLE! Feb. 1 2012
By Janet Babins TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The story is divided into three parts.
In the first part, too much time was spent on the goings-on backstage at a Vaudeville show. The characters were touched on lightly and you never had the opportunity to get to know them until much later on. I would have liked to spend more time with the sisters and see how their careers and lives developed, but it took a long time to reach that point. The second and third part of the book came alive and was more interesting.

Flora, the mother and a former vaudeville singer has fallen on hard times. Her husband, a school teacher, died unexpectedly and left Flora with no means of support. She has three daughters. Aurora is sixteen. the eldest and is very beautiful. Clover is fifteen and is shy and soulful. Bella is thirteen and is a joyful, energetic girl with a mind of her own. They are the Avery sisters. Mama and the girls are very close, because they only have each another. There is a powerful bond between them.

Flora decides to take the sisters out on the road, determined to turn them into a successful singing act The sisters start out as amateurs possessing some natural talent. They travel to Canada and the United States to audition and their name is changed to the Belle Auroras. Of course, Clover is a little sad that her name wasn't included in their new stage name, but she says nothing about it. It is before and during the First Great War in Europe. Aurora is sixteen at the time.

As they learn the ropes on how to become a much better act. An ailing and somewhat jaded musical director, unpaid, acts as the girls' singing coach. There is jealousy, deceit but also camaraderie among the vaudeville performers.

The second and third part of the story becomes very interesting and the characters come alive.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Little Shadows Jan. 15 2012
By mommyx2
Format:Hardcover
It took a long time to get into this book. I could easily put it down and come back to it. Halfway through though I started to want to know where their journeys through vaudeville were going to take them and found myself more caught up in the story. Interesting to learn about the vaudeville circuit and acts, too. Bottom line though...I should have borrowed it from the library instead of buying it.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Little Shadows Dec 6 2011
Format:Hardcover
Well written but not engaging at all! I'm sure it is an accurate reflection of what life was like in vaudeville but nothing much happens throughout most of the book and the characters were not very compelling. I read this for book club and have to say that I didn't really want to pick this book up after I began it and I found that I was scrambling to finish it the night before we were meeting. That means it took me a whole month to get through it! I wish I could say that others at the book club felt differently but I can't. No-one enjoyed this book at all. Ms Endicott could have done so much more with this story line but, for whatever reason, chose not to.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth the read Dec 10 2011
Format:Hardcover
I found the book a little hard to get into, but was glad I persevered. Once I became acclimated to the world of vaudeville being presented to me as a 21st century reader, it was hard to put down. I found it fascinating to learn about what went on both on stage and behind-the-scenes in vaudeville, and cared about what would happen to the three sisters, known as the Belle Auroras, and their mother.The Little Shadows
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5 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Didn't want it to end! Oct. 23 2011
Format:Hardcover
I absolutely loved this book! I immediately felt like I knew the characters and didn't want the book to end. Charming, so well written, just a joy. Highly recommended.
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