"My father's wife died."
"My father's wife died. My mother said we should drive down to his place and see what might be in it for us."
So begins this remarkable novel by Amy Bloom, whose critically acclaimed Away was called "a literary triumph" by The New York Times. Brilliantly written, deeply moving, fantastically funny, Lucky Us introduces us to Eva and Iris. Disappointed by their families, Iris, the hopeful star, and Eva, the sidekick, journey across 1940s America in search of fame and fortune. Iris's ambitions take them from small-town Ohio to an unexpected and sensuous Hollywood, across the America of Reinvention in a stolen station wagon, to the jazz clubs and golden mansions of Long Island.
With their friends in high and low places, Iris and Eva stumble and shine through a landscape of big dreams, scandals, betrayals, and war. Filled with gorgeous writing, memorable characters, and surprising events, Lucky Us is a thrilling and resonant novel about success and failure, good luck and bad, the creation of a family, and the pleasures and inevitable perils of family life. From Brooklyn's beauty parlors to London's West End, a group of unforgettable people love, lie, cheat, and survive in this story of our fragile, absurd, heroic species.
Before you read my review, check out the insightful one Arianna posted a few weeks back. I don't have as many great ideas brewing in my head for this review, not sure why since I really liked the book. I do want to mention that I ADORE the cover, it speaks to the characters of the book so well and it looks kinda quirky and fun while the underlying message isn't that at all. Lucky Us is a story that weaves between the lives of two half sisters. Iris comes from a wealthier mother who rears her up to have absolute self confidence and over grandiose ideas on where her life should lead. Eva was the daughter left behind with her destitute mother, she gets "returned" to her father who is now shacking up with the mother of Iris. Neither girl loves their family and the pair share a strange bond, mostly strung together by Iris who takes the girl in as her confident for her big life plans. Eva doesn't seem to mind being the drag along and willingly follows Iris into disaster after disaster.
Thinking back on this book, I keep playing the "Oh, the places you will go" phrase, over and over in my mind. I think I loved the bouncing Iris so much because she brought us into these areas of the world I would never have experienced myself. I love reading from the perspective of someone SO different from the way I am. Even though she is abundantly indulgent and full of herself, she still has this warm heart that doesn't forget the little people in her life. The relationship between the two of them is unusual but also slightly comforting in a dysfunctional way. Eva gets to see Hollywood and attend fancy shindigs due to her sisters fame. I have to say, I have a sweet spot for old fashioned Hollywood, there is something romantic and tragic there that keeps me wanting more. We also get thrown out of that world and into NYC, not the glamour of the bright lights but the gritty and honest streets of Brooklyn. As the environment changes, so do the characters and events. Gone is the glitz and glam and to replace it, we have hardship and struggle which is such a stark contrast to the Hollywood chapters. I love that Amy Bloom brings us from here to there with a flick of her wrist (or what I imagine her writing process would look like).
I have a feeling this book is going to be welcomed with wide arms, maybe even a little jazz hand action?! Amy Bloom has this way of captivating the reader and I think she has accomplished this yet again, I'm pretty sure all her fans will be gobbling this up without disappointment. I like Amy Bloom, I think she is a solid writer with great stories to tell but I don't see a huge difference between her and many of the other literary writers I read every year and like. I guess I'm not a "Bloom" fan girl, but will that stop me from reading her books? No way! Don't get me wrong, I respect her writing and books very much and I KNOW she is totally worth the read. Be prepared for another successful developed story that has "I want to meet them" characters. You really can't go wrong with Amy Bloom, I can pretty much promise you won't "hate" it but I'm hoping you enjoy it as much as I did.
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Left: Hardcover - Right: E-Book