So I just finished book 1 of 9 in my little summer reading project. At long last! Already twenty days into December, I feel a little slack. The truth be told, I have been reading The Little Shadows by Marina Endicott for some time now. Here’s a little synopsis for you . . .
The Little Shadows is set in Canada around the time of the first World War. It revolves around the three young Avery sisters who, along with their mother, make their living singing in vaudeville. The novel unfolds over a number of years and it follows the girls’ journey into adulthood within the colourful and enigmatic world of vaudeville. It’s about their relationship as sisters and the way in which they learn how to come into their own as artists and individuals.
I was attracted to this novel for a few reasons. I’ll admit that reason number one was the cover art, which is lovely. Second, was the early twentieth century setting and the vaudeville scene – portrayed as a dreamy, larger-than-life world, detached (almost) from the horrors of WWI. In addition, the story is written by an Australian author but takes place in Canada which is kind of interesting.
I’ll begin with the positives. Endicott writes beautifully, delivering a rich, sensory portrayal of time and place. The story had a graceful sense of symmetry about it and the ending, while not exactly happy, was satisfying and suited the characters that she created. Importantly, it reads as a natural sort of period piece – not the kind that bombards you with random details designed to demonstrate exactly how much research the author did.
However (and there is always a however) I found this book quite difficult to get though. It is over 500 pages long and moves verrry sloowwwly. The characters seemed a little two-dimensional at first and at times I felt like I was reading nothing more than a very pretty description of their gradually developing careers. This changes, but it did make it hard to really get into the story. I had to force myself to sit down and read it which ,to be honest, happens with a lot of books. but it’s not good position to find yourself in as a reader.
So . . . glad I read it, glad I finished it. Glad I discovered this Aussie author and I might give some of her other works a try But I probably wouldn’t give the Little Shadows five stars, simply because it did not grip me tight and compel me to read on.
I think next up is Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel. I know I haven’t exactly been going for light material- so much for letting the old brain rot away over the summer. Hopefully Santa might leave me some fun holiday fluff next week! I’ll leave you with a little excerpt. In the meantime, Merry Christmas!
“A summer evening. Moths dance in the lights outside the opera house. . . The curtain sways, curling along its bottom edge in a velvet wave, swept not by the wind or the weight of the moon but by a company assembling backstage. . . Murmurs cease as the violins come creaking into tune, their mild excitable cacophony resolving into sense and meaning, into A, the one note they all seek . . . Tips of toes show beneath the bobble-fringe – a quiet rumpus that must be the girls. The bandmaster taps his stand. It’s about to start. Breath in – “