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The Little Shadows Hardcover – Deckle Edge, International Edition


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Editorial Reviews

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


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: 9.4 x 5.8 x 1.5 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: #1,794,969 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

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See all 9 customer reviews
Found it trite and it didn't flow in the narrative.
alexis
I loved the intertwining of stories, the pressures and intimacies of growing sisters, with sudden spots of colorful Vaudeville theatrics.
Jonathan Chute
I had to reread the second part of the book and from that point, I was hooked.
Janet Babins

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Janet Babins 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 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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I found this novel about how three teen-aged sisters and their widowed mother managed to make a living in the days of vaudeville in the west during WWI to be very, very good. Although other readers have complained that it took too long to get into the actual lives of Aurora, Clover, Bella and mother Flora, I didn't find that. I think the descriptions of what vaudeville really was and what it entailed to be able to "make it" as an act on stage were necessary to understand what the girls and their mother were going to go through later in the book. It was certainly not a pretty or easy life and sometimes the descriptions of the forms of abuse against young girls and women that were more or less accepted as the norm were hard to take.
I loved the author's choice of words, whether she was describing the bowls that the girls ate their daily breakfast porridge from, and if they were lucky, their second meal of the day, or the clothing they wore, or what the landscape was like when it had snowed overnight.
The central theme of the book seemed to be about love and the importance of family and friends, which of course is universal, but the knowledge I gained about vaudeville, a subject I knew very little about, made the story even more enthralling for me. I came to care about the Avery girls as I read the book and I wanted to know how their lives turned out; would they each find the "right" person to love them? In the end I was thoroughly entertained while I was able to do just that.
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By perook on August 27, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This story unfolded pretty slowly, but I quite enjoyed it just the same. It taught me about vaudeville and the role it played in people's entertainment in those days, particularly in small towns. I also learned about the geography of that part of Canada and US. I became involved with the characters and felt Marina Endicott painted a credible, albeit bleak picture of their lives. Some of the book was too drawn out, e.g. the rather tedious descriptions of all the acts, some of which weren't relevant to the story at all. It's not going to set the world on fire but this novel will appeal to those who just want a quiet read that has a deal of literary merit.
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