Some books I simply enjoy more than others. I loved Cat's Eye, The Time Traveler's Wife and The Life of Pi because they all were fresh fiction to me, new stories, and I felt that way about this one. Simplistically, it's the story of a theater queen who trades her role for theater mother and the far reaching effects of her tentacles of ambition, which make place for many family secrets and skeletons. The author's song writing skills (he's actually John Wesley Harding) make him a master at the turn of the phrase. I especially loved this one: "Everyone trod carefully around this awkward detail, a dog mess that might not smell unless it was disturbed." The following is a review from Amazon:
This second novel by the author of Misfortune (2005) wends its way through a labyrinth of familial idiosyncrasies, grudges, and conundrums. As John Wesley Harding, Stace writes lyrics and performs music, and his folksy style infuses an air of warmth and humor to what is essentially the story of a controlling woman who nearly ruins her entire family. The multilinear and multigenerational tale begins with the last days of an elderly vaudeville ventriloquist, Echo Ender, whose onstage success with her dummy, Naughty Narcissus, ensures entry into the entertainment world for future generations of her family. First comes Echo's son, Joe, also a ventriloquist, who has a dummy named George; he's followed by his flamboyant daughter, Frankie, an actress; and then by her withdrawn son, also named George, who develops his own talent for throwing his voice at boarding school. The two Georges—one a boy, the other a dummy—are the joint narrators in this saga of the backstage failures behind one family's onstage success. The two Georges' stories eventually merge in a surprising conclusion to a novel that most readers will hate to see end. Characters spring to life in the words of the sardonic dummy, whose pointed comments about his wacky family make the book a hoot to read and beg the question, Who's in control, the puppet or the puppet master? Book groups will enjoy sorting out this one!
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