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The Little Shadows Hardcover – Deckle Edge, International Edition

9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


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."
—, 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

About the Author

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.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday Canada; First Edition edition (September 27, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385668910
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385668910
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.4 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,038,059 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Marina Endicott was born in Canada, in Golden, BC. She grew up in Halifax and Yarmouth, Nova Scotia and Toronto, Ontario. After working as an actor in Toronto and later in London, England, she began to write fiction. Marina worked as a director and dramaturge and ran the Saskatchewan Playwrights Centre for many years before going farther west with her husband, Peter Ormshaw, on his first posting with the RCMP to Mayerthorpe, Alberta. They have two children, Will (19) and Rachel (17). Marina is the Writer in Residence at the University of Alberta for 2012/13.

Marina's first book, Open Arms, was nominated for the Amazon/Books In Canada First Novel award in 2002, and her long poem about the murders of four RCMP officers in Mayerthorpe in 2005 was short-listed for the national CBC Literary Awards in 2006.

Good to a Fault won the Commonwealth Writers Prize for the Canada/Caribbean region, was a finalist for Canada's prestigious Giller Prize, and was one of the featured books for the national CBC's Canada Reads in 2010. Her new novel, The Little Shadows, short-listed for the Governor General's Award in 2012, follows a sister-trio-harmony vaudeville act touring the western prairies in 1912. Marina is at work on a new novel, Hughtopia.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Janet B on February 20, 2012
Format: Hardcover
The story is divided into three parts.
In the first part, too much time was spent on the goings-on backstage at a Vaudeville show. The characters were touched on lightly and you never had the opportunity to get to know them until much later on. I would have liked to spend more time with the sisters and see how their careers and lives developed, but it took a long time to reach that point. The second and third part of the book came alive and was much more interesting.

Flora, the mother and a former vaudeville singer has fallen on hard times. Her husband, a school teacher died unexpectedly and left Flora with no means of support. She has three daughters. Aurora is sixteen, the eldest and is very beautiful. Clover is fifteen and is shy and soulful. Bella is thirteen and is joyful, energetic and with a mind of her own. They are the Avery sisters. Mama and the girls are very close, because they only have each other. There is a powerful bond between them.

Flora decides to take the sisters on the road, determined to turn them into a successful singing act. The sisters start out as amateurs possessing some natural talent. They travel to Canada and the United States to audition and their name is changed to the Belle Auroras. Of course, Clover is a little sad that her name wasn't included in their new stage name, but she says nothing about it. It is before and during the First Great War in Europe. Aurora is sixteen at the time.

They learn the ropes on how to become a much better act. An ailing and somewhat jaded musical director, unpaid, acts as the girl's singing coach. There is jealousy, deceit but also camaraderie among the vaudeville performers.

The second and third part of the story becomes very interesting and the characters come alive.
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Format: Hardcover
The Little Shadows is a beautifully written coming-of-age tale of three sisters at the beginning of the twentieth century. At a time when moving pictures were in their infancy and television was the stuff of science fiction, vaudeville was one of the few types of public entertainment available and was hugely popular. So, when their father dies leaving them penniless, Flora, their mother, decides to have them audition as a song-and-dance routine. They are not particularly talented but, thanks mainly to the elder sister's beauty and Flora's connections, they soon find themselves on the vaudeville circuit in the western US and Canada.

Author Marina Endicott is obviously very fond of her subject and has done her research. She describes in great detail many of the acts which were popular at the time. Although most of the characters are fictional (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle does make a cameo appearance), many of these acts are based on real Vaudevillians like Buster Keaton. Also, many of the songs the girls sing are ones which most of us would know like Danny Boy. Although very few of us (including myself) have ever experienced a vaudeville show first-hand, being able to recognize and hum along with the tunes lends a sense of familiarity with the story.

The book is divided into acts as the girls progress from novices to seasoned veterans of the circuit and these acts are further divided into short vignettes or skits just as a vaudeville show would have been. There is even an encore and Ms Endicott has definitely saved the best for last.

The Little Shadows is historical fiction at its finest - three dimensional characters we can relate to, a vibrant picture of a fascinating bygone era, and an author with the ability to make it all come to life while remaining true to the time - so let's all give a warm round of applause to this heartwarming ode to vaudeville.
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Format: Hardcover
The Little Shadows by Marina Endicott is a historical novel set in the years preceding and during World War I. It is the story of three sisters, teenagers as the story begins, who travel with their mother to support the family as a vaudeville act. The book is 527 pages long, but I was engaged in the story immediately. I loved the way the author switched back and forth between the sisters (especially) and the mother (occasionally). It took a while for the characters to grow on me, but I enjoyed all of the story telling and the pictures of life in vaudeville.

Through the first half of the book, we follow the sisters in their travails in vaudeville. They all love the life and entertaining people, and I liked that it wasn't a chore for them. If they were tied down in one place for too long, they got bored. In the money or not, they wanted to be entertaining in vaudeville more than anything else.

At around the midpoint of the book, the sisters are all maturing and various aspects of life intrude upon their plans and goals. I don't like to say more than that, but at this point, I was more involved with the characters and pulling for them with their various problems or triumphs in life. This book covers the years from 1912-1917 and thus World War I figures a great deal. That was also a plus for me. I like to learn about wars in a fictional setting.

Marina Endicott has done extensive research on vaudeville, as she describes in her acknowledgements and at her website. This book shows the poverty and uncertainty in the vaudeville life for most performers, and how their fortunes may rise or fall based on luck just as easily as talent.
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