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The VELVET PRISON Paperback – September 15, 2016
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About the Author
Sheldon Friedman, a resident of Colorado, recently retired as a practicing lawyer. He is also a playwright, having his play The Long Goodbye performed at a local theater in 2010. A recent play is in the hands of a producer and another play is to be produced in 2016. A former college lecturer on legal topics, he has been writing short stories, plays and novels since the age of ten. .. .. .. .. ..
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Along the way, we have cameos of John L. Lewis, Fiorello LaGuardia, John D. Rockefeller, and FDR. The Mafia and even the Nazis get into the act, in a thrilling (but somewhat implausible) detour to a reconnaissance mission. There is a subplot involving Travis' mother, who abandoned him, and his struggle to come to terms with that abandonment, and some love interests for Travis.
The Velvet Prison refers to a nightclub, but the title also encapsulates the predicament of Travis Kane. His young life of privilege is actually an albatross that confines and frustrates him. The novel does not oversimplify this conflict, though most readers will be able to predict the outcome. The outcome, but not the ending, which is paradoxically tragic and "happy." And the final lingering image? The sturdy cane of Barclay Kane, the ironic "Rosebud" of the life of Travis Kane.
Travis's life is, sadly, all too common. Echoed again and again even in today's current climate, growing up with pain and the constant tension in the world, the threat of war constantly looming in the distance. He shows his character in several situations, following his artist's heart, even when life gets surprising and a little messy. The secret thread connecting him and Lindsay was easy to guess, and I supposed a bit predictable from the first few chapters, however I didn't feel as though I missed out. The progression was done well, and revealed in an entertaining way.
I liked Lindsay quite a bit. She was the kind of girl most of us enjoy having in our circle of friends, and is always an interesting person to be around. I enjoyed her personality, and how she interacted with other people. I can't help but take notice of how women are thought to have behaved in the past, and the contrast between her Hannah were striking, given their relationship. I think she was naive for constantly defending Hannah, instead of admitting the woman needed some help, and being more realistic about the overall situation. Still, it fit her personality to be a bit stubborn, and was more of a character trait than an actual complaint.
In the same ways the author described Travis painting, he created this book with a lot of color, making it easy to see what is meant to be important. The focus isn't so much the state of the war, or any particular country. It isn't a political statement piece, but rather a look into what an ordinary life would have looked like, and a taste of reality, from the view point of some well-created characters. Each one grew quite a bit, and were defined very well throughout the story.
My only complaint, is that the story lagged somewhat in a few places, with a bit too much emphasis was put on keeping things 'mysterious' for the reader, while other places felt far too rushed. It seems as though details could have been explained a in a more crisp manner, and the flow balanced better. Even so, the story overall was entertaining, and I would recommend it to other historical fiction fans.
*I was given a complimentary eCopy of this book, from the author, to read in exchange for an honest review.
@Desert Rose Reviews