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Lucky Us: A Novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge, July 29, 2014


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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

An Amazon Best Book of the Month, August 2014: From its provocative opening paragraph--"My father’s wife died. My mother said we should drive down to his place and see what might be in it for us."--to its sweet tableau of an ending, Amy Bloom’s Lucky Us is a percussive novel about two sisters who go from Ohio to Hollywood and back trying both to find and lose themselves and each other. Iris has the disposition (if not the talent) of an actress, but early on she gets drummed out of Tinseltown for a particularly shocking (for the time) youthful indiscretion; Eva is her younger, more dour sister/observer. Through short vignettes of and letters from the Acton sisters as well as a growing cast of tragicomic characters, we get a jazzy novel about the WWII era. Bloom is particularly good at recreating the idioms of the time--in her acknowledgements, she thanks her cousin, the writer/scholar Harold Bloom for teaching her “to find a better way to put almost anything.”--and both her style and her story have a subversive, iconoclastic quality. This is not a very long novel, but with its expansive understanding of human nature and of history, it covers a lot of ground. --Sara Nelson

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Eva, age 12, knows her father as a sweet man who visits on Sundays, until her mother announces that his wife has died and they’ll be paying him a visit. And so Eva arrives at a home she’s never seen to live with her father and older half sister, Iris, whom she didn’t know existed. Talented, self-involved Iris is a doggedly hopeful performer, winning every local and regional competition in their small midwestern college town before graduating high school and escaping to Hollywood with the embarrassing but brainy and reliable Eva in tow. There is a gossip-column scandal and a cross-country road trip, an abducted orphan and an accused spy, and more than a couple of masquerades, but everything here is fresh; Bloom’s cannonballs read like placid ripples. Told partially from Eva’s perspective, and with epistolary interludes over the novel’s 1939–49 span, Eva’s world is one of endless opportunities for reinvention—and redemption—if one only takes them. With a spare and trusting style, Bloom invites readers to fill the spaces her pretty prose allows, with true and beautiful results. High-Demand Backstory: An extensive marketing campaign and author tour will accompany review attention, to the benefit of fans of Bloom’s best-selling historical novel Away (2007). --Annie Bostrom
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; First Edition edition (July 29, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400067243
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400067244
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 0.9 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (359 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #30,408 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

AMY BLOOM is the author of two novels and two collections of short stories, one a nominee for the National Book Award and the other a National Book Critics Circle Award nominee. Her stories have appeared in Best American Short Stories, Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards, and numerous anthologies here and abroad. She has written for the New Yorker, the New York Times Magazine, the Atlantic Monthly, Vogue, Slate, and Salon, among many other publications, and has won a National Magazine Award. Her first book of nonfiction, Normal: Transsexual CEOs, Crossdressing Cops, and Hermaphrodites with Attitude, is an exploration of the varieties of gender. A practicing psychotherapist, she lives in Connecticut and teaches at Yale University. Multiple Audie®; Award winner Barbara Rosenblat has been named a "Voice of the Twentieth Century" by AudioFile magazine. The New York Times writes,"Watch Ms. Rosenblat work...and you get the sense that even an Oscar winner might not be able to pull this off." She created the role of "Mrs. Medlock" in the Tony®; Award-winning Broadway musical The Secret Garden.

Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

69 of 77 people found the following review helpful By Charlotte Vale-Allen VINE VOICE on June 10, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Amy Bloom's writing talent is indisputable. She's gifted. And there is much about this book to like. However, for me, there was a fair bit not to like.

The letter-writing format is always a challenging one and in this case I was unsatisfied--especially with letters throughout that don't feel or read like letters but serve more as rather awkward transitions, devices for updating the story line.

And what were other reviewers finding comical/humorous? This is a heavyweight book. I certainly didn't find anything comical in the narrative. There are likeable characters: Eva especially, and Danny and Francisco; others are coarse (Gus) or incomplete (Iris).

I just can't join the parade and heap masses of praise on this book. I kept wondering throughout why I was still reading ... I'm still wondering ...
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72 of 81 people found the following review helpful By Jill Meyer TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 27, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Damn, but Amy Bloom's new novel, "Lucky Us", is easy to rate - 5 stars - but difficult to review. How does a reviewer do justice to a book with an unconventional plot, peopled with unconventional characters? I feel I should just write, "trust me, read the book, you'll enjoy it!". But I can't do that because the powers-that-be say I must give my reasons for my 5 star rating, so here goes.

Amy Bloom is the author of a couple of short story collections and several novels, including "Away", published in 2008. "Away" was the story of Russian immigrant Lillian Leyb. Lillian fled the pogroms of Russia to search for her daughter, who Lillian heard had made her way to the United States. Lillian Leyb's epic journey through 1920's United States and onward was as powerful as the same searching by the characters in Bloom's new book, "Lucky Us".

"Lucky Us" is the story of half-sisters, the daughters (one legitimate, the other illegitimate) of a pretend-professor in a small, Ohio town, in the late 1930's. The younger daughter, Eva, was dumped by her mother into the home of the father and older sister, Iris. The mother takes off, and Eva was amazingly accepted by her older half-sister. The two flee to Hollywood from Ohio, where Iris plans to become a movie star. Their journey and their lives in California, the people they meet who love and care for them, are written by Amy Bloom in a wondrous fashion that make the book, and the characters, very special. Occasionally the same scenes are written from two points of view, but rather than being confusing to the reader, both voices reiterate the action and the feelings of the characters.

The book continues Iris and Eva's "journey" back to the east coast.
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68 of 77 people found the following review helpful By Dawn Kessinger VINE VOICE on July 12, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
At first, I thought "Lucky Us" was such an odd and ironic title for a depressing tale of two sisters and how they learn about shallow, backstabbing people and how easy it is to contribute to the destruction of others' hearts and lives. I didn't get hooked on the story or the characters until around halfway in, and that is when I began to understand the title and the point of the story (no matter how grim, or how dishonest, disappointing, disastrous a life or lives may seem, there is always a chance, and always hope, that there are better times and happier moments ahead - maybe right around the corner - or maybe years away; also, if you have one person in the world who loves you and who you can love, you should consider yourself lucky, because such love is not guaranteed in any life).

I have to say the author does a great job of taking you on an emotional roller coaster with Iris (the older, actress sister) and Eva (the younger sister, and who tells what is happening through most of the story). One minute I felt sympathy for them. Then, I'm shocked. The next minute, I'm angry and disappointed. After that, I'm feeling sympathy again. And hope. And the beginning of pride. The book is a study of contrasts - how people might behave at different stages and situations in life. A good decision or a bad decision doesn't, by itself, dictate whether a person is *good* or *bad;* it's as though a journal is being kept. The purpose is to record a person's experience and who lived through it - and who didn't - and the consequences that arrived and what occurred after time passed and to note the miracle of the world as it kept turning.
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25 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Mr. August VINE VOICE on July 21, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This meaningful phrase was stated by Clara Wiilams, a black cabaret singer, who suffers from vitiligo, a skin depigmentation. Her skin looks white, often mottled, but she is a black woman who captures the heart of an older white man.

The story opens with Hazel telling her daughter, Eva, our narrator, that her father’s wife has died and they should drive down to his place and see what might be in it for them. What happens when they arrive at this house of mourning shocked me but it is an exceptional opening event to this novel. Hazel abandons Eva, leaving her well-worn suitcase on the front porch and then takes off.

This is 1939 and Eva is 12 years old; she now becomes the younger sister of beautiful and outspoken, Iris, and lives with her father, Edgar Acton, a college professor. Despite the differences between Eva, who is bookish and plain, and Iris, who is saving her pennies for Hollywood and Vine, they get along. Iris does not seem to resent her, but Iris’ agenda is so far-reaching, they are thrown into a peculiar world. They run away and Ms. Bloom provides fabulous scenes from lesbian Hollywood parties, Hedda Hopper to tenement living with a motherly landlord. Iris is not street smart enough to outlast the Hollywood competition.

The family needs to reinvent themselves and Edgar enters the picture, broke and in need of a job, even though he stole the girls’ meager savings before they left. They drive to Great Neck, New York and Edgar is hired as a butler (he practices on the trip) and the Torellis accept the entire family and move into a home on their property. Life becomes somewhat normal until Iris falls obsessively in love with Reenie, the married female cook.

The author creates secondary characters that are not squandered.
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