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Lucky Us [Format Kindle]

Amy Bloom

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1

I’d Know You Anywhere

My father’s wife died. My mother said we should drive down to his place and see what might be in it for us.

She tapped my nose with her grapefruit spoon. “It’s like this,” she said. “Your father loves us more, but he’s got another family, a wife, and a girl a little older than you. Her family had all the money. Wipe your face.”

There was no one like my mother, for straight talk. She washed my neck and ears until they shone. We helped each other dress: her lilac dress, with the underarm zipper, my pink one with the tricky buttons. My mother did my braids so tight, my eyes pulled up. She took her violet cloche and her best gloves and she ran across the road to borrow Mr. Portman’s car. I was glad to be going and I thought I could get to be glad about having a sister. I wasn’t sorry my father’s other wife was dead.

•••

We’d waited for him for weeks. My mother sat by the window in the morning and smoked through supper every night. When she came home from work at Hobson’s, she was in a bad mood, even after I rubbed her feet. I hung around the house all July, playing with Mr. Portman’s poodle, waiting for my father to drive up. When he came, he usually came by two o’clock, in case there was a Fireside Chat that day. We listened to all the Fireside Chats together. We loved President Roosevelt. On Sundays, when my father came, he brought a pack of Lucky Strikes for my mother and a Hershey bar for me. After supper, my mother sat in my father’s lap and I sat right on his slippers and if there was a Fireside Chat, my father did his FDR imitation. Good evening, friends, he said, and he stuck a straw in his mouth like a cigarette holder. Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. He bowed to my mother and said, Eleanor, my dear, how ’bout a waltz? They danced to the radio for a while and then it was my bedtime. My mother put a few bobby pins in my hair for curls and my father carried me to bed, singing, “I wish I could shimmy like my sister Kate.” Then he tucked me in and shimmied out the door. Monday mornings, he was gone and I waited until Thursday, and sometimes, until next Sunday.

My mother parked the car and redid her lipstick. My father’s house was two stories of red stone and tall windows, with fringed lace curtains behind and wide brown steps stacked like boxes in front of the shining wood door. Your father does like to have things nice, while he’s away, she said. It sure is nice, I said. We ought to live here.

My mother smiled at me and ran her tongue over her teeth. Could be, she said—you never know. She’d already told me she was tired of Abingdon, where we’d been since I was born. It was no kind of real town and she was fed up to here hostessing at Hobson’s. We talked a lot about finding ourselves a better life in Chicago. Chicago, Chicago, that toddlin’ town . . . I saw a man, he danced with his wife. I sang as we got out of the car and I did a few dance steps like in the movies. My mother said, You are the bee’s knees, kiddo, and she grabbed the back of my dress. She licked her palm and pressed it to my bangs, so they wouldn’t fly up. She straightened her skirt and told me to check her seams. Straight as arrows, I said, and we went up the stairs hand in hand.

My mother knocked and my father answered the door in the blue vest he wore at our house during the president’s speeches. My father hugged me and my parents whispered to each other while I stood there, trying to see more of the parlor, which was as big as our whole apartment and filled with flowers. (Maybe my father said, What the hell are you doing here? Maybe my mother cursed him for staying away, but I doubt it. My father had played the gentleman his whole life and my mother must have said to me a hundred times that men needed to be handled right and a woman who couldn’t handle her man had only herself to blame. “When I say men are dogs,” she’d say, “I’m not being insulting. I like dogs.”) Behind my father, I saw a tall girl.

“My daughter Iris,” my father said. I could hear my mother breathe in.

“Iris,” he said, “this is my friend Mrs. Logan and her daughter, her lovely daughter, Eva.”

I knew, standing in their foyer, that this girl had a ton of things I didn’t have. Flowers in crystal vases the size of buckets. Pretty, light-brown curls. My father’s hand on her shoulder. She wore a baby-blue sweater and a white blouse with a bluebird pin on the collar. I think she wore stockings. Iris was sixteen and she looked like a grown woman to me. She looked like a movie star. My father pushed us to the stairs and told Iris to entertain me in her room while he and my mother had a chat.

“Picture this,” Iris said. She lay on her bed and I sat on the braided rug next to it. She gave me a couple of gumdrops and I was happy to sit there. She was a great talker and a perfect mimic. “The whole college came to my mother’s funeral. My grandfather used to be president of the college, but he had a stroke last year, so he’s different now. There was this one girl, red hair, really awful. Redheads. Like they didn’t cook long enough or something.”

“I think Paulette Goddard’s a redhead,” I said. I’d read this in Photoplay last week.

“How old are you, ten? Who the hell wants to be Paulette Goddard? Anyway, this redheaded girl comes back to our house. She’s just bawling to beat the band. So this lady, our neighbor, Mrs. Drys­dale, says to her, ‘Were you very close to dear Mrs. Acton?’ ”

The way Iris said this, I could just see Mrs. Drysdale, sticking her nose in, keeping her spotted veil out of her mouth while she ate, her wet hankie stuffed into her big bosom, which my mother told me was a disgusting thing to do.

“I’m twelve,” I said.

Iris said, “My mother was like a saint—everybody says so. She was nice to everyone, but I don’t want people thinking my mother wasted her time on this stupid girl, so I turn around and say that none of us even know who she is and she runs into the powder room downstairs—this is the funny part—the door gets stuck, and she can’t get out. She’s banging on the door and two professors have to jimmy it open. It was funny.”

Iris told me that the whole college (I didn’t know my father taught at a college; if you had asked me, I would have said that he read books for a living) came to the chapel to grieve for her mother, to offer sympathy to her and her father. She said that all of their family friends were there, which was her way of telling me that my mother could not really be a friend of her father’s.

We heard the voices downstairs and then a door shutting and then the piano, playing “My Angel Put the Devil in Me.” I didn’t know my father played the piano. Iris and I stood at her bedroom door, leaning into the hall. We heard the toilet flush, which was embarrassing but reassuring and then my father started playing the “Moonlight Sonata” and then we heard a car’s engine. Iris and I ran downstairs. My mother’d left the front door open and just slipped into Mr. Portman’s car. She’d set a brown tweed suitcase on the front porch. I stood on the porch holding the suitcase, looking at the road. My father sat down in the rocker and pulled me onto his lap, which he’d stopped doing last year. He asked me if I thought my mother was coming back and I asked him, Do you think my mother is coming back? My father asked me if I had any other family on my mother’s side, and I lay my head on his shoulder. I’d seen my father most Sundays and some Thursdays since I was a baby, and the whole rest of my family was my mother. I was friendly with Mr. Portman and his poodle and all of my teachers had taken an interest in me, and that was the sum of what you could call my family.

Iris opened the screen door and looked at me the way a cat looks at a dog.

We sat down to meat loaf and mashed potatoes and the third time Iris told me to get my elbows off the table, this isn’t a boardinghouse, my father said, Behave yourself, Iris. She’s your sister. Iris left the room and my father told me to improve my manners. You’re not living in that dreadful town anymore and you’re not Eva Logan anymore, he said. You’re Eva Acton. We’ll say you’re my niece.

I was thirteen before I understood that my mother wasn’t coming back to get me.

Iris didn’t ignore me for very long. She bossed me. She talked to me like Claudette Colbert talked to Louise Beavers in Imitation of Life, when she said, “We’re in the same boat, Delilah,” which showed that the white lady had no idea what the hell she was talking about, and of course Louise Beavers just sighed and made more pancakes.

Iris helped me navigate junior high. (A big, red-faced girl cornered me after two weeks and said, Who are you, anyway? Iris dropped a manicured hand on the girl’s shoulder and said, Gussie, this is my cousin Eva Acton. Her mother has also passed away. And the girl said—and who can blame her—Jeez, what are you two, vampires? Don’t walk past my house, is all I’m saying.)

I helped Iris prepare for her contests: elocution, rhetoric, dramatic readings, poetry readings, patriotic essays, and dance. Iris was a star. She had a lot of admirers at school, and some girls who didn’t like her, and she didn’t care. I pretended I didn’t care either. I hung around the library and got A’s and my real job, as I saw it, was to help Iris with her contests.

Things were not as nice at the house as they were the day my mother dropped me off. We didn’t have fresh flowers anymore and everything was a little dusty. Iris and I cleaned our rooms and we were supposed to clean the parlor and the kitchen too, but we didn’t. No one did. My father opened cans of salmon or tuna fish and dumped them on our plates, on top of a lettuce leaf. Sometimes he boiled six hot dogs with a can of beans and put a jar of mustard on the table.

I found Charlotte Acton’s very clean copy of Joy of Cooking and I asked my father if I could use it. My father said that he wanted me to know that he and Iris would eat anything I deigned to make. Irma Rombauer said on the first page to begin by facing the stove. I put a bunch of parsley and a lemon in a chicken and put it in the oven for a couple of hours. We finished the chicken and my father thanked me.

On my thirteenth birthday, I made crepes, my father read “The Highwayman” aloud, and we had pineapple upside-down cake for dessert. Iris put the candles in and they both sang.

On New Year’s Eve, our father went out and Iris and I drank gin and orange juice out of her mother’s best cherry-blossom teacups.

“May the hinges of our friendship never grow rusty,” Iris said. “I got that from Brigid, the maid. Before your time.”

“Hear, hear,” I said, and we hooked elbows and choked down the gin.

One night in February, I woke up to Iris slapping me. It’s true that Iris was not the sister I might have dreamed of. (Not that I’d ever dreamed of a sister at all. I dreamed of having a poodle, like Mr. Portman’s, and for years I dreamed that my mother hired a private eye to find me and came crying to the doorstep of wherever I was living. I never let her in.) But Iris had never hit me before. I’d been in her house for more than a year and she’d never even set foot in my room. When Iris wanted to talk to me, she’d stand in the hallway and point and I’d go sit on her braided rug, next to her bed.

“You sneaky, thieving, filthy bitch.” Her opal ring, the one from her mother, snagged in my hair, and we were stuck together, both of us crying. She yanked me out of bed and across the floor, until she got her hand loose. She threw everything I had, which wasn’t much and most of it clothes she didn’t want anymore, onto the floor. Oh, Christ, she said. I know it wasn’t you. She lay down on the floor next to me, panting.

Iris said my father had stolen a hundred dollars she’d hidden under her mattress. He’d taken it all. It had happened one time before I’d come and then she moved her hiding place, but now he’d found it again. She had five bucks in her hand from tonight at the Pulaski Club, for one of her best speeches, “What Makes America Great?” and she was damned if Edgar was going to get it. She banged around my room, pulling all the books off my little bookshelf. She went into her room and came back with the big scissors we used to make some of her mother’s clothes into things she could wear for her recitations. She cut the middle out of my copy of Little Women, page by page, from “Genius burns!” until almost the end, when Amy marries Laurie, which I hated anyway.

This is my Hollywood and Vine money, she said. That’s my next stop. She put all of my books back nicely and she put my shoes and my clothes back in my closet. She brushed my hair. She folded up the cardigans that used to be hers, and my room and I looked better than usual.

It was amazing to me that Iris had made so much money from her contests. It was amazing to me that she thought it’d be smarter to keep her money in my room. I thought she was mistaken about my father stealing her money in the first place, but she wasn’t. Iris was just being Iris. I don’t think she was more observant or more intuitive than I was. I saw plenty, but I never knew what to make of it. Iris saw only what mattered to Iris, but she really paid attention, like a pilot watching for the flashing lights of the landing strip below. Her attention was the only thing that stood between her and a terrible crash. Iris said I was more like someone with a crazy radio inside of me, and half the time the radio said things worth knowing and half the time it said things like, “Crops fail in Mississippi.” Every time Iris won, from Valentine’s Day to Memorial Day, she folded the money into her bra. My father waited up for her and every time, he’d ask her if she’d like him to hold on to her winnings. She always said, No, thanks, and went straight to her room, to throw him off. She was very polite about it.

The day after graduation (me from eleventh grade, with the prize in English literature and social studies, Iris from high school with a standing ovation and our father reciting “Gunga Din” at both places) Iris gave her speech about “The Fallen” for the Veterans of Foreign Wars. It brought down the house. Really, Iris said, I was great. And I was improvising. I said that she was better than great, that she was as good as Judy Garland, but prettier. Iris said that Judy Garland could cry at the drop of a hot dog and that she knew she had to work on that herself.

Iris did the Rotary and the Exchange Clubs and the American Association of University Women get-togethers from Windsor to Cincinnati, all summer long. She entered every contest within fifty miles, even if she had to hitch a ride and carry her dress clothes and shoes in a sack. She won them all. Sometimes, when Iris walked into the auditorium, you could hear the other girls sigh. She won a fifty-dollar bond from the Midwestern Carpenters Union for best speech by a boy or girl and she trounced the Italian girls with “Musetta’s Waltz” at Casa Italia in Galesburg, where she also won in a walk for “Why I Am Proud to Be an American” at Temple Beth Israel, reciting as Iris Katz. The two of us did pretty well in the corn-shucking contests at the fairground. The corn wagons each held about twenty-five bushels and Iris and I did about sixty pounds together. We came in first in the Youth Group, Girls and we came in second for Youth Group, Seniors, right behind two boys who looked like they’d done nothing but shuck corn their whole lives. We pulled the silk off each other and had root-beer floats. The ten dollars went right into Little Women. Sometimes I opened the book just to look at Iris’s money. At night, I sewed the sequins back on the outfit that was resting, or I basted the pleats on the sailor skirt or I put ribbon on her worn-out cuffs and waited for her to come home. The sequins came loose after every performance and my bed was always covered in them.

It was the day before Labor Day and hot and there were no contests anywhere and no party to get ready for. Iris and I walked down to Paradise Lake, the big pond at the edge of Windsor College. I dragged my feet to make dust devils. Iris took off her shoes and socks and put her feet in the water. She lit a cigarette and I lay down next to her. Iris took two beers out of her bag and I took out last week’s Screen magazine.

“There’s your heartthrob, Paulette Goddard,” she said. “I can do what she does.”

I thought Iris probably could. I kept watch for my father while Iris smoked, her eyes closed.

“Let’s get wet,” Iris said, and I ran back to my room to look for my bathing suit. My father was on his knees in my closet, one hand on my black party shoe.

“I thought you girls were down at the pond.”

“I have to change,” I said. “Iris’s already down there. She brought her suit with her.”

“Your sister plans ahead,” he said. “You are more hey-nonny-nonny.”

He tucked my shoe back into the closet and stood up, smiling a little absently, the way he did at breakfast, when I was talking while he was reading.

When I told Iris she said, “That sonofabitch. You have to do what I tell you.”

I said I would, whatever it was.

Revue de presse

Lucky Us is a remarkable accomplishment. One waits a long time for a novel of this scope and dimension, replete with surgically drawn characters, a mix of comedy and tragedy that borders on the miraculous, and sentences that should be in a sentence museum. Amy Bloom is a treasure.”—Michael Cunningham

“These two things about Amy Bloom’s surprise-filled Lucky Us are indisputable: It opens with a terrific hook and closes with an image of exquisite resolution. . . . She writes sharp, sparsely beautiful scenes that excitingly defy expectation, and part of the pleasure of reading her is simply keeping up with her. You won’t know where Lucky Us is headed until, suddenly, it’s there. . . . The book’s opening lines, destined to be quoted in many a classroom for their perfection, are: ‘My father’s wife died. My mother said we should drive down to his place and see what might be in it for us.’ . . . [It’s] a short, vibrant book about all kinds of people creating all kinds of serial, improvisatory lives. Changes occur because characters fall in and out of love, trouble and, yes, luck. And even when the bad luck is devastating, they dust themselves off and inventively move on.”—Janet Maslin, The New York Times
 
“Bighearted, rambunctious . . . a bustling tale of American reinvention . . . [a] high-octane tale of two half-sisters who take it upon themselves to reverse their sorry, motherless fortunes . . . If America has a Victor Hugo, it is Amy Bloom, whose picaresque novels roam the world, plumb the human heart and send characters into wild roulettes of kismet and calamity. . . . Love will fizz and fizzle, outrageous lies will be told, orphans will find happiness and heartbreak, and fate will sweep in to drive characters into hellish corners of the world. . . . There are few American novelists writing today who can spin a yarn as winningly. . . . Welcome to America, dear reader. Lucky us.”The Washington Post
 
“Bloom’s crisp, delicious prose gives [Lucky Us] the feel of sprawling, brawling life itself. . . . Lucky Us is a sister act, which means a double dose of sauce and naughtiness from the brilliant Amy Bloom.”The Oregonian

“A tasty summer read that will leave you smiling . . . Lucky Us is about Bloom’s uncanny ability to conjure the tone of the war years—broken hearts held together by lipstick, wisecracks and the enduring love of sisters, come what may.”USA Today
 
“Exquisitely imagined . . . [a] grand adventure.”O: The Oprah Magazine

“Marvelous picaresque entertainment . . . Our heroines’ prospects darken, brighten, and darken again with every turn of Bloom’s cosmic kaleidoscope. Parades of finely drawn characters—a Spanish makeup artist, a black jazz singer afflicted with vitiligo, a lovely Italian nouveau riche family in Great Neck, New York, a soulful German mechanic—enter and leave the scene. . . . To read Bloom’s fiction is to experience afresh how life is ruled by chance and composed of spare parts that are purposed and repurposed in uncanny ways—it’s a festival of joy and terror and lust and amazement that resolves itself here, warts and all, in a kind of crystalline Mozartean clarity of vision.”Elle
 
“A fireworks display of delightful, if sometimes confounding, surprises . . . wildly twisting . . . spryly spontaneous.”The Wall Street Journal
 
“[Bloom] writes with such spare, efficient grace. . . . Her words are carefully chosen to cut clean and deep. . . . Even [her] casual asides stack up, like pearls strung on a wire. . . . Taken together, they make this odd, precocious girl’s story feel as big and small and strangely marvelous as life itself. [Grade] A-”Entertainment Weekly
 
“This coming-of-age story begs for a string of exuberant adjectives: heartbreaking, triumphant, lush and sparkling. . . . The book is fanciful but deep, the world is flawed but beautiful, and Eva can never decide between grief and joy because, it turns out, you can’t: Life is a high-wire balancing act suspended between the two.”More
 
“In Bloom’s masterful hands, this scrappy band of misfits is totally loveable.”Marie Claire
 
“In a relatively small number of pages, she gracefully creates a bustling crowd of characters, many of whom might well star in a novel of their own. . . . Lucky Us is a beautifully textured story of getting by and moving on; of a time when Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s ‘plummy, patrician voice . . . managed to be the voice of people who never spoke that way’; of creating a family from both the people you’re born to and the ones you find along the way. And, most of all, it’s a wickedly warmhearted tale of two very different sisters and their meandering paths through young adulthood; each finding, eventually, her own way home.”The Seattle Times
 
“Bloom’s book beautifully explores the myriad ways in which we define and create the American family, and ultimately how we carve our path when life keeps throwing obstacles in our way. . . . Lucky Us is a beautiful novel with complicated and layered messages about survival, family and obligation, but ultimately it is a novel about hope and possibility, when we finally understand that we are more than the sum of our circumstances.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune
 
“A novel of striking emotional depth, proving anew the Chekhovian truth that genuine comedy can be deeply sad.”Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
 
“Imaginative . . . gloriously satisfying . . . These characters are separated by fate and distance, but form a vividly rendered patchwork American family (straight, gay, white, black, citizen, immigrant). Bloom transforms history to create a story of stunning invention, with characters that readers will feel lucky to encounter.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)
 
“Unrepentantly quirky, a madcap romp complete with road trips, secret identities, aspiring Hollywood starlets, and a tarot card–reading fake psychic . . . At its core, this is a novel of resilience, with the war serving as both a life-changing event and no more than the background noise of an impoverished existence. Full of intriguing characters and lots of surprises . . . readers of literary fiction and twentieth-century historicals, as well as fans of wacky humor, will find it an excellent choice.”Library Journal (starred review)
 
“A multilayered, historical tale about different kinds of love and family. Bloom enlivens her story with understated humor as well as offbeat and unforgettable characters. . . . A hard-luck coming-of-age story with heart.”Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Lucky Us indeed—another Amy Bloom book. And, if it’s possible, even more powerful and affecting than her last novel, Away. This is a poignant book that manages to be funny, an unflinching portrait that manages to be tender, a tough story that manages to also have jazz and grace. Bloom is a great writer who keeps stepping into new territory, entirely unafraid. She is one of America’s unique and most gifted literary voices.”—Colum McCann


From the Hardcover edition.

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 541 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 257 pages
  • Pagination - ISBN de l'édition imprimée de référence : 1400067243
  • Editeur : Granta Books (31 juillet 2014)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ASIN: B00LCMMRTW
  • Synthèse vocale : Activée
  • X-Ray :
  • Word Wise: Activé
  • Composition améliorée: Activé
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: n°62.324 dans la Boutique Kindle (Voir le Top 100 dans la Boutique Kindle)
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.5 étoiles sur 5  384 commentaires
76 internautes sur 84 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Well, maybe ... 11 juin 2014
Par Charlotte Vale-Allen - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
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 ...
73 internautes sur 82 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Marvelous novel... 28 mai 2014
Par Jill Meyer - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
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. Bloom introduces new characters to her book but each new character is so clearly defined that there are never too many characters to keep track of. As a reader, I was interested in every character and every plot point. Births, deaths, adoptions, and many other life events are gracefully folded into the plot as new familial units are formed - some permanent, some more temporary.

I recently read and reviewed a novel that had formulaic characters and plot. It was a waste of time to read that book; I won't remember it in a week's time. With Amy Bloom's "Lucky Us", that won't happen. I'm counting it as one of my best reads in 2014. So, please, pick it up and look at it. The cover alone is worth a glance and the contents are worth the read.
68 internautes sur 77 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 An unusual story about life, love, luck and two sisters 13 juillet 2014
Par Dawn Kessinger - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
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.
25 internautes sur 29 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 "You Can Fake Pretty” 21 juillet 2014
Par Mr. August - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
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. There is Francisco, a make-up artist, his sisters, Gus, Reenie’s husband and Danny, the child Eva and Iris stole from a Jewish orphanage. Life moves as one incredible event fade into another. For example, Gus is of German descent and someone reports him as a German spy and he becomes a prisoner in our country, similar to the Japanese. He flees America and moves to Germany, where life is somewhat worse. All of this is recorded in letters he sends to Eva, who is now a full-fledged teenager.

Bloom’s historical expertise is woven into the story during and after the war. She doesn’t miss a trick, whether it’s Jewish influx and housing or the government buffoonery. Each character is singular. Edgar, who is really Isador Vogel, has questionable credentials. Reenie’s fate is a shock. The entire cast is strong and meaningful. There was some of the earlier John Irving with her diverse characters placed in loony situations.

Falling in love shape their lives. Falling out of love is often a devastating blow but there maybe some luck around the corner. Bloom has them move on, whether it’s mopping up the floor or creating a phony transcript to get into medical school. Highly recommended.
10 internautes sur 11 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Odd and disjointed 15 juillet 2014
Par mzglorybe - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
The 2 main characters are half-sisters, Eva and Iris.

Opens with a woman taking her daughter Eva to her father's house, where his wealthy wife has died. Eva was the result of an affair of the mother with a married man. Eva is left there, and the mother disappears. The father has a legitimate daughter with his wife, an older-than-Eva daughter, Iris. The author doesn't develop the relationship at all between the two sisters. We just have to believe that they instantly bond, even though neither one knew about the other before. Readers aren't privy (ever in the novel) to the relationships between the father with either of the mothers of his daughters, his wife or mistress, no back story on that. We just learn early on that the father is of questionable but likable (odd) character.

The setting is in the 1940's during Roosevelt's era. The story teller is Eva, the younger abandoned sister. After discovering even more faults in their father, the girls leave home while in their teens for Hollywood. Glam-girl Iris aspires to being an actress/show girl. Plain-jane Eva is only 14, she's the work-horse in the duo. The first party we are privy to Iris attending is an orgy with lesbians, where she discovers her sexuality. This all happens in the first 35 pages. At this point, I am totally under-whelmed by the writing and plot line, not wanting to continue. But continue I must, as I have received a complimentary copy for my unbiased opinion through Amazon's Vine program.

I did finish this odd novel. It does engage the reader a bit more as it goes on, but it didn't flow well for me. The author has skill, and wit, and can string words together well enough. A lot of history of the era was essential for this writing, so one admires that. First off, I found the title misleading, no one was "Lucky" here, maybe that was the point. It was a rather dismal and sad story. I also found it disjointed in its composition. For instance, it is broken up into segments, parts 1- 3 from the pre-war years to post-war 1949. In part 2 which takes place between 1943-1945, there is a letter inserted from Iris to Eva dated April, 1947 from England. What?? Did I miss something? Eventually you figure it out.

Another thing, I usually like a letter-writing format, and this one has letters inserted here and there in the 2nd half, but somehow, it didn't work as well for me in this effort. Like I said, "disjointed" somehow. My copy is an ARC so perhaps those issues of composition will not be an issue in the final draft. Suffice it to say, that I didn't mind it, didn't love it, so it gets a middle-of-the-road review from me. To be released Aug 5, 2014.
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