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5 of 5
2 ratings
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list price: $32.95
edition:Hardcover
also available: Paperback
category: Fiction
published: Sep 2011
ISBN:9780385668910
publisher: Doubleday Canada

The Little Shadows

by Marina Endicott

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5 of 5
2 ratings
rated!
rated!
list price: $32.95
edition:Hardcover
also available: Paperback
category: Fiction
published: Sep 2011
ISBN:9780385668910
publisher: Doubleday Canada
Description

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.

Contributor Notes

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.

Awards
  • Short-listed, Scotiabank Giller Prize
Editorial 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

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Librarian review

The Little Shadows

When Aurora Avery was sixteen, she suddenly found herself in charge of her sisters. Their father and baby brother had died, leaving their mother too distraught to cope. Before her marriage, their mother had worked in vaudeville, and now that she and the girls were turned out of the schoolmaster’s cottage, she returned with her girls to the dodgy and precarious world she had left behind. It was familiar to her, and it was possible for the girls to sing and dance their way to a decent living; there weren’t many better options on the prairie in 1912. So Aurora, Clover and Bella would take to the stage, and Aurora, being the eldest and most sensible, would hold the purse strings.

Rich with atmosphere, The Little Shadows follows Aurora, Clover and Bella as they make their way in the variety and vaudeville theatre circuit. Together, without any real help from their distracted mother, they contend with larger than life personalities, financial crises, seductions, betrayals, and the challenge to continually delight and entertain. Aurora feels most keenly the necessity to provide for her family, so she accepts a marriage proposal from a theatre manager more than twice her age – a solution which seems practical enough until he abandons her in early pregnancy. Clover falls in love with a gifted, idealistic illusionist who does not plan to stay in theatre, and she must choose where her loyalties lie. And Bella, whose one true love is the theatre itself, is required to craft a unique moral code in order to survive.

The Little Shadows is a captivating, thoroughly engrossing novel that handles Dickensian themes with a sparse, Prairie sensibility. Endicott comes from a theatre background, and her love for this world sings on every page.

This review also appears on my blog at www.theteatimereader.wordpress.com

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