Louise Shaffer, Family Acts Review

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Harriet Klausner's review of Louise Shaffer, Family Acts


“Family Acts ”

Written on: 23/08/2007 by Harriet Klausner (18637 reviews written)

Family Acts

Louise Shaffer

Ballantine, Aug 2007, $24.95

ISBN: 9781400060634

In New York City soap opera script writer Katharine Harder hates her job especially since she knows she has it only because her late mom Rosalind was the superstar of the show; in fact she was a soap opera legend. In spite of being a mom to eleven year old Susie, Hollywood business manager Miranda Jennings still feels the pain of loneliness growing up as the offspring of an actor; in fact she has vowed to insure Susie has a happy childhood. Although they have heard of their famous parents, neither Kate nor Randa know one another

However these bicoastal strangers inherit the Venable Opera House in Massonville, Georgia. They each skeptically want to know the catch, how they can dump the dump, how are they related beyond the Bard who gave them their first names, and do they give up the big city for sleepy hollow. Each travels to Georgia as they learn that the Venable family has "always named their children after characters in Shakespeare's plays" and strong women for over a century have somehow always saved the place. Randa and Kate must decide between a sale that means tearing down the opera house and saving it with no performances planned.

FAMILY ACTS is a terrific character study of two adult females who must decide between the pragmatic destruction of a heritage vs. the romantic notion of making it work. Kate and Randa are fabulous protagonists as they share in common skepticism that they can save the opera house yet as they learn of the Venable females (all named after a Shakespearean character) caught at the same crossroads, they wonder can they do this too. Although the ending is too fast and too neatly perfect coda, fans of contemporary character driven tales with strong symbolism will appreciate Louise Shaffer's fine tale.

Harriet Klausner

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