The Little Shadows
By: Marina Endicott
Published: September 2011
Published By: Doubleday Canada
Format Read: Hardcover
Genre: Historical Fiction
After their Father’s untimely death, sisters Aurora, Clover and Bella set out to make a living as performers in Vaudeville. Under the instruction of their Mother (a former performer in her own right) they travel western Canada and the north-western United States with their singing and dancing act, before and during World War I.
Vaudeville was a popular form of entertainment that featured a variety of acts beginning in the late 19th century. Marina Endicott’s The Little Shadows is set just before and during the years of World War I. It is a form of entertainment that I have never read about before, so I was intrigued to discover what it was all about. The author drew influence from Buster Keaton and the Pantages theaters.
It was evident that the acts enjoyed at these shows were quite different than what is standard in the present day. Endicott painted a detailed picture of the in’s and out’s of theater life, both on stage and behind the curtain. Also described in detail was the different performances including song lyrics. Unfortunately I found this to become tedious to read after a few chapters.
At over 500 pages in length, it took me quite a while longer to finish this book, than I hoped. This was due in part to the fact that I had a hard time connecting with the sisters. The plot felt quite drawn out and anti-climactic.
Thankfully my interest began to pick up during the last 100 pages or so. I found this book to be written beautifully and the language rang true to the time period. I also liked the way each chapter was divided and named.
Even though I didn’t exactly love this book, I would still recommend The Little Shadows by Marina Endicott to those who enjoy historical fiction with a focus on entertainment.