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Lucky Us: A Novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge, July 29, 2014
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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
Top Customer Reviews
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 ...
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.
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Best book I've read in months. With each chapter I became more and more involved in the lives of these amazing characters. Read morePublished 11 hours ago by WomanQ
This was an unusual book for me. Nonetheless, and enjoyable one. Different from those I usually read. Glad I did.Published 1 day ago by Amazon Customer
A must read!! Thoroughly enjoyable all the way through. Amazing heartwarming characters that seem like you know them. I will try the authors other books for surePublished 4 days ago by Kari
Took me a while to get into it, but once I did, I found myself anxious to continue reading.Published 5 days ago by Barbara Sullivan
Still not sure what the point of this novel is. Really cannot say one positive thing about it.Published 7 days ago by Carolyn S. Brimmer