The Little Shadows Hardcover – Deckle Edge, Sep 27 2011
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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.See all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
The Little Shadows tells the story of the three Avery sisters and their mother in alternating points of view as they negotiate the world of vaudeville in the early 1900s. The book is a love letter to vaudeville, and more compellingly, conveys a thespian’s engaging behind-the-curtain viewpoint.
The enjoyment of historical fiction is to become immersed in another time and place, far removed from the modern world. While reading The Little Shadows, I could almost smell the dust in the wings of the Canadian prairie theatres and intimately knew the eccentric characters that danced and sang across its stages. I came away with a new appreciation for vaudeville performers and what they endured to bring entertainment to audiences in an age before moving pictures.
This book contains one of the most compelling sex scenes I’ve ever come across and beautifully styled prose that makes concrete the abstract feelings that we all have but struggle to put into words. For instance, one of the Avery sisters muses on love and thinks she has always “been happiest alone.” Endicott writes, “Not pretending, not folding herself small to fit in someone else’s grasp.” That line really struck at my heart and encapsulated thoughts and fears I’ve had about entering into marriage. It's not easy to convey an emotion like this, that many women must feel but are unable to communicate, even to themselves. Marina Endicott digs deep and brings a beautiful story of the past into the present day.
Most recent customer reviews
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... Read morePublished on Jan. 15 2012 by mommyx2
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... Read morePublished on Dec 6 2011 by bookworm