- Paperback: 544 pages
- Publisher: Anchor Canada (Sept. 4 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0385668937
- ISBN-13: 978-0385668934
- Product Dimensions: 16 x 3 x 23.4 cm
- Shipping Weight: 590 g
- Average Customer Review: 7 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #426,909 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Little Shadows Paperback – Deckle Edge, Sep 4 2012
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Praise for The Little Shadows
"The Little Shadows should come with a warning label: You will stay up too late at night reading this book. And in the morning, your first thoughts will be about its characters. Are they all right? How will they manage?"
"Endicott catches the flavour of the times with her diction and attentiveness to sensory details, transporting readers to a harsh world mitigated only by personal connections and applause. . . . The bright lights of the stage also cast dark shadows, and Endicott explores both with gentle wisdom."
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, where she teaches at the University of Edmonton and writes.See all Product description
Top customer reviews
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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. Circumstances separate the sisters. A pair of delightful comedians looks after Bella. Bella, in turn, takes care of a once-gifted raconteur, who has a drinking problem. Aurora marries a much older man to help keep the family afloat. He is suave and thirty years older than Aurora. Clover's boyfriend, who is of European descent decides to leave vaudeville and join the British Army.
Terrible things will happen on the war front and the sisters' lives will change forever.
I had to reread the second part of the book and from that point, I was hooked. Once you get into this book, you will enjoy it.
The Little Shadows has to be one of the BEST NOVELS of 2012 that I have read. It was a finalist for a Governor General's Award for Literature.
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.
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