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The little shadows by Marina Endicott
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The little shadows (edition 2012)

by Marina Endicott

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1241497,109 (3.44)25
Member:HelenBaker
Title:The little shadows
Authors:Marina Endicott
Info:Crows Nest, N.S.W. : Allen & Unwin, 2012.
Collections:Your library, To read
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The Little Shadows by Marina Endicott

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This novel tells the story of three sisters making their way in vaudeville in Canada in the early 1900s. Aurora, Clover and Bella, together with their widowed and fragile mother Flora, go from theatre to theatre, sometimes headlining, sometimes opening the show and experiencing the various ups and downs of vaudeville and life in general.

The book covers the period from shortly before the outbreak of World War I, to shortly before the end of that war. As the family move from across the country, they each experience love and heartbreak and end up growing up in their own individual ways.

It is very clear that the author has extensively researched her subject and there are some real life characters included, although most are fictional but based on real life (for example, one character is based on Buster Keaton and his family). It made for an interesting and informative read, and I do feel that it gave a lot of insight into what is essentially an unstable profession. What I liked about the sisters was their very believable love and support for each other – each had their own talent and personality and they all complemented each other.

While overall I enjoyed this book, I would say I liked it rather than loved it. I would recommend it, but with some hesitation as I feel that if historical fiction is not a genre you would normally enjoy, this is not a book which is going to change your mind. ( )
  Ruth72 | Nov 19, 2016 |
I'm still letting this one settle, because although I enjoyed it greatly, I think it could have been sharper and I'm trying to figure out how. But I really like Endicott's examination of women's lives. She does it deliberately, and while she doesn't have Atwood's bite, she's willing to show the warts. This novels explores a 3 sister vaudeville act, who travel the mostly Canadian Vaudville scene (Winnipeg's Pantages, Orpheum and Walker theatre figure at one point). Women don't have it particularly easy in that world, but Endicott doesn't let us forget that the men have their own struggles. ( )
  mkunruh | Nov 13, 2016 |
3.5 stars

It is 1912. Aurora, Clover and Belle are sisters and their father is gone. Their mother used to work in vaudeville, so she decides to teach the girls and set up an act so they can all make a living. The girls are 13, 15, and 16 and their mother, at the same time as teaching them to perform, is also trying to protect them as they travel and try to find theatres to perform in. The book follows them up to 1917.

I liked this, but it didn't quite live up to what I expected. There was a lot of vaudeville detail that probably didn't need to be there. I did read it, in part, because of the vaudeville, but it was a lot. Overall, though, I did enjoy it and I wanted to keep reading and wanted to be reading when I wasn't. It was a long book, but didn't feel long to me (despite all the extra detail). ( )
  LibraryCin | Jul 27, 2015 |
I was left wanting MORE!

It has a bit of a slow pick up as you get to know the comings and goings of the vaudeville life, but once I was deep in it I was IN LOVE! I absolutely adore period books and this one didn't disappoint.

It really put me in the mind frame of the characters and their nomadic life, I felt their worries and victories and rooted for them every step of the way!

The sisterly love is beautifully portrayed as was their tenacious and brave mother. And all the secondary characters are just as good (or bad!).

The only complaint I have about this books it's that it's over too soon. #greedyreader I would love to follow along with the girls some more... Keeping this simple for fear of spoilers but I would love to follow along with their boys as well, some of their endings will have me worrying and wondering forever!

( )
  joanasimao | Sep 28, 2013 |
Very much looked forward to this book, but could not keep reading it. Historically interesting but the plot felt repetitive and insignificant. Not at all interested in these characters. ( )
  brocade | Sep 10, 2013 |
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It’s a clever approach, but risky; keeping track of this vast array of players demands, and sometimes tries, the reader’s patience. So does Endicott’s determination to re-enact dozens of eccentric routines. Ultimately the experiment pays off; we are utterly submerged in the milieu of vaudeville. It is a world as colorful as Oz, though the backdrop is mostly blinding white.

The strangeness distracts somewhat from the coarse realities of the period. The Ninepins’ routine of comic brutality, for instance, is a thin disguise for the family’s history of domestic violence. The theatre world virtually condones violence against women. While the girls are free to explore their burgeoning sexuality, a non-existent father and thoughtless mother leave them vulnerable. Bella is sexually assaulted, while Aurora is taken advantage of by a man who humiliates her in public. Yet Aurora has learned that pain need not be pointless; she uses it to inform her songs....The Little Shadows is a novel about art and women, and personal fulfillment and the thrill of performing. But it is also a story about the role of the audience; Endicott celebrates the art of watching. Set against a backdrop of ice and snow and war, the book belongs to a Canadian tradition preoccupied with survival. At the same time, Endicott insists, art has always had its place. She has written an entertaining, moving and original work.
 
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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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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.… (more)

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