Saturday, October 25, 2014

Lucky Us, by Amy Bloom

Staff Review by Chris Hubbard

Amy Bloom’s wonderfully addictive and cinematic novel tells the story of two sisters’ lives set against 1940’s wartime America.

Lucky Us begins with the line “My father’s wife died. My Mother said we should drive down to his place and see what might be in it for us”  Upon delivering 12 year old Eva to her father’s other home, her mother swiftly abandons Eva to live with her precocious and selfish older half-sister Ida and Edgar her father, who is an expert conniver.

Ida has dreams of making it big in show business, so with Eva in tow she runs off to Hollywood. It’s not long before Ida finds work as an extra but the goal of more substantial acting work constantly eludes her. The girls’ father eventually tracks them down and the trio end up working for a wealthy Italian family where Edgar is employed as a butler and Ida as governess. It isn’t long before Ida falls head over heels in love with Reenie the family’s household cook and this is when the lives of the sisters takes a dramatic turn. Reenie has a husband called Gus who is of German background and the shocking moment when Ida reports him to the authorities in order to remove him from the romantic triangle sets off a series of unpredictable sequence of events.

Amy Bloom has written many short stories and her skill is evident in an astonishing ability to pack so much detail into a book just over 240 pages. While reading Lucky Us I found myself thinking back to the terrific pithy novels of James Cain and John O’Hara. Although neither noir or crime, Amy Bloom’s  enthralling and atmospheric book has a similar visceral punch as Double Indemnity or Butterfield 8 where fate conspires to entangle ordinary lives.

Lucky Us, by Amy Bloom. Published by Granta. ISBN: 9781847089397  RRP: $19.99

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