Monday, May 20, 2013
Charming and funny, warm and authentic. Authentic should be underlined because the story is about a young woman who dreams of Broadway. And the author/reader is an actress who has performed on Broadway and appeared in films. She knows of what she writes and narrates. For this listener a story is often greatly enhanced when read by the author, and that is certainly the case with Someday, Someday, Maybe.
In Graham’s debut we meet Franny Banks, an aspiring actress who has set a goal for herself - realize her dream in New York City within three years or take up another profession. She has come so close but not close enough and there are only a few months left in her self-imposed timeline.
She has strived diligently - acting classes with a well thought of coach and a performance in his showcase that garnered her offers from two agents. There’s the glib Joe Melville and been-there-seen-it-all Barney Sparks. Joe has landed her a bit part in a newly revived sit com - problem is it hasn’t aired.
Her love life seems to be doing better than her career - there’s a long distance connection to Clark, a Chicago law student, a what-might-amount-to-something dalliance with a good looking actor, James, and the comfortable comradery of her screenwriter roommate, Dan.
Franny makes do by working as a catering server and cocktail waitress. Things start to look up when Joe lands a role for her or do they? It’s in a zombie film and nudity is required.
Someday, Someday, Maybe is a unique coming of age story set in the entertainment industry. It’s laced with hope, humor and good bits of advice.
- Gail Cooke
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Fans of the Faith Fairchild mystery series are in for several treats with her 21st adventure. First of all, many may call a travel agent to arrange a trip to Italy as that is where caterer Faith and pastor hubby Tom have gone sans offspring to celebrate their 25th anniversary. Page makes Italy sound like the most inviting place on the planet with numerous details of scenes and places visited. They begin in Rome before going to Tuscany for the opening of Faith’s former assistant Francesca’s cooking school - Cucina Rossi.
Once there many mouths will water while reading descriptions of daily comestibles. But, never worry - recipes for Spaghetti alla Foriana, Pici with Tuscan Ragu, Fresh Spinach Sauteed with Garlic and Panna Cotta are included in the back of the book.
While in Rome Tom and Faith befriend an apparently learned Englishman, Freddy Ives, who treats them to a delicious meal, jots copiously in a notebook he carries, and thoroughly charms the Fairchilds while not saying very much about himself. It’s not long before the couple are horror stricken to see Freddy stabbed to death in the Piazza Farnese. Tom has caught just a glimpse pf the murderer and Freddy only managed to gasp a few words before his last breath.
Somewhat reluctantly the Fairchilds proceed to Tuscany to offer Francesca and her husband support in their new endeavor and hopefully enjoy themselves. The enjoying part may be a tad difficult as other guests are really a mixed bag - an argumentative couple who seem to be on the brink of divorce, a young girl in Goth garb complete with facial piercings, a snooty, hard-to-please British couple, some Southern ladies, an apparently very-much-in-love pair, and Francesca’s neighbor, Luke, who owns an eye-popping palazzo and attendant vineyards.
The biscotti is just being passed when the just purchased milk turns sour, Francesca’s assistant quits, and the guest’s bathtubs are home to decapitated snakes. Helping Francesca would be a full-time job for anyone but dauntless Faith is also determined to solve Freddy’s murder. Along the way she’s locked in an Etruscan tomb and Tom is kidnaped.
With some help from her sister in the States and the British Embassy all’s well in the end just as we knew it would be. But, what an unforgettable journey it was!
- Gail Cooke
Saturday, May 11, 2013
Friday, May 10, 2013
Thursday, May 9, 2013
"I was smuggled to France on a moonless flood ride, soaked from rain and spattered with the blood of a sailor beheaded by a cannonball."
And so begins another thrilling Ethan Gage adventure, a blend of action and history during the Napoleonic era.
At one time he was a cohort of Napoleon's - fighting beside him and acting as his agent. Now, there is a dramatic change. Gage wants retribution from Napoleon for kidnapping his son, Harry, and almost killing his wife, Astiza.
Nonstop adventure peopled with characters who would make the incredible quite possible - thoroughly entertaining.
Sunday, May 5, 2013
In a departure from her praiseworthy novels that are usually set in the past Allende brings us to an often frightening present not only in narrative voice but in contemporary themes as well. The narrator is 19-year-old Maya Vidal who tells her story via the notebooks she keeps relating a coming of age marked by drugs, crime, prostitution, and the most horrific experiences imaginable.
Allende has noted that she has six grandchildren and realizes that she cannot protect them from all that young people are exposed to today, so she wrote this book for them. Would that all young ones would heed the lessons Maya has learned.
Deserted by her mother when she was an infant Maya has been raised by her paternal grandparents, Nini, and Popo. Through her notebook entries that shift between past and present we learn that she was especially close to Popo, an astronomy professor who doted on the child. He was her anchor and protector. Devastated by Popo’s death when she is 16 Maya’s life takes a decidedly downward turn. She begins by hanging out with the wrong kids, skipping school and experimenting with drugs. It’s not too big a step to petty crimes.
After a drug related accident she is hospitalized and then sent to an Oregon rehabilitation facility. We would hope this would be a turning point in her life - one for the better. But that is not to be. The unrepentant Maya escapes from rehab only to find herself among the least desirable population of Las Vegas and then enmeshed in the underworld. Soon she must run not only from criminals but law enforcement as well. Her very life is in danger.
Thanks to Nini’s intervention she finds herself on the way to her grandmother’s native Chile and then further to a small village off the coast, Chiloe. Once there Nini has arranged for her to live with Manuel Arias, a grumpy anthropologist. Maya arrives as an “obelisk with hair dyed four primary colors and a nose ring.”
It is on this island where life is simple and the people kind that Maya may eventually find herself. Allende’s descriptions of the island and Chile are glorious. While one may have to suspend a bit of belief to see how a girl can continually get herself deeper and deeper into trouble, the message is a valid one. And Maya is surely one of the most unforgettable characters Allende has ever created.
- Gail Cooke