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Lucky Us

by

Lucky Us Cover

ISBN13: 9781400067244
ISBN10: 1400067243
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
All Product Details

 

Staff Pick

Amy Bloom's hypnotic and gorgeous new novel displays her trademarks — remarkable narrative skill and richly drawn, evocative characters. Iris and Eva, half-sisters creating a family in World War II-era America, will draw you in and not let go. Perfect summer reading.
Recommended by Tessa, Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

“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” (The New York Times). Lucky Us is a brilliantly written, deeply moving, fantastically funny novel of love, heartbreak, and luck.

Disappointed by their families, Iris, the hopeful star and Eva the sidekick, journey through 1940s America in search of fame and fortune. Iris’s ambitions take the pair across the America of Reinvention in a stolen station wagon, from small-town Ohio to an unexpected and sensuous Hollywood, and to the jazz clubs and golden mansions of Long Island.

With their friends in high and low places, Iris and Eva stumble and shine though 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, conventional and otherwise. 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.

Review:

"Two teenaged half-sisters make their way through WWII-era America in Bloom's imaginative romp. After being left on her father's Ohio doorstep by her absconding mother, 11-year-old Eva meets Iris, the older half-sister she never knew she had. They escape to Hollywood, where Iris hopes to become a movie star. But they wind up on Long Island, where the girls and their father, Edgar, find employment in the home of the nouveau riche Torelli family. Over the course of the story, Edgar develops a relationship with a black jazz singer named Clara Williams, Iris falls in love with the Torellis' cook, Reenie Heitmann, and Eva learns to read the tarot and sets herself up as a psychic. Joining the lively cast is Francisco Diego, a Hollywood makeup artist; Gus, Reenie's German husband, who is deported; and Danny, an orphan who is ultimately raised by Eva. On the way to a gloriously satisfying ending, these characters are separated by fate and distance, but form a vividly rendered patchwork American family (straight, gay, white, black, citizen, immigrant). Bloom (Away) transforms history to create a story of stunning invention, with characters that readers will feel lucky to encounter." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Review:

Lucky Us indeed — another Amy Bloom book. And, if it’s possible, even more powerful and affecting than her last novel, Away. This is a poignant book that manages to be funny, an unflinching portrait that manages to be tender, a tough story that manages to also have jazz and grace. Bloom is a great writer who keeps stepping into new territory, entirely unafraid. She is one of America’s unique and most gifted literary voices.” Colum McCann

Review:

Lucky Us is a remarkable accomplishment. One waits a long time for a novel of this scope and dimension, replete with surgically drawn characters, a mix of comedy and tragedy that borders on the miraculous, and sentences that should be in a sentence museum. Amy Bloom is a treasure.” Michael Cunningham

Review:

"These two things about Amy Bloom's surprise-filled Lucky Us are indisputable: It opens with a terrific hook and closes with an image of exquisite resolution....She writes sharp, sparsely beautiful scenes that excitingly defy expectation, and part of the pleasure of reading her is simply keeping up with her. You won't know where Lucky Us is headed until, suddenly, it's there." Janet Maslin, The New York Times

Review:

"A fireworks display of delightful, if sometimes confounding, surprises...wildly twisting...spryly spontaneous." The Wall Street Journal

Review:

"[A] kaleidoscopic take on life in the tumultuous '40s....In an exquisitely imagined novel, Amy Bloom wows....Lucky Us is a tale of a family weathering tragedies intimate and global." O: The Oprah Magazine

Review:

"Bighearted, rambunctious...a bustling tale of American reinvention...[a] high-octane tale of two half-sisters who take it upon themselves to reverse their sorry, motherless fortunes....If America has a Victor Hugo, it is Amy Bloom, whose picaresque novels roam the world, plumb the human heart and send characters into wild roulettes of kismet and calamity....Love will fizz and fizzle, outrageous lies will be told, orphans will find happiness and heartbreak, and fate will sweep in to drive characters into hellish corners of the world....There are few American novelists writing today who can spin a yarn as winningly....Welcome to America, dear reader. Lucky us." The Washington Post

Review:

"A multilayered, historical tale about different kinds of love and family. Bloom enlivens her story with understated humor as well as offbeat and unforgettable characters....A hard-luck coming-of-age story with heart." Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Review:

"Unrepentantly quirky, a madcap romp complete with road trips, secret identities, aspiring Hollywood starlets, and a tarot card-reading fake psychic....At its core, this is a novel of resilience, with the war serving as both a life-changing event and no more than the background noise of an impoverished existence. Full of intriguing characters and lots of surprises...readers of literary fiction and twentieth-century historicals, as well as fans of wacky humor, will find it an excellent choice." Library Journal (starred review)

About the Author

Amy Bloom is the author of Come to Me, a National Book Award finalist; A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You, nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award; Love Invents Us; Normal; Away, a New York Times bestseller; and Where the God of Love Hangs Out. Her stories have appeared in The Best American Short Stories, O. Henry Prize Short Stories, The Scribner Anthology of Contemporary Short Fiction, and many other anthologies here and abroad. She has written for The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, Vogue, Slate, and Salon, among other publications, and has won a National Magazine Award. She teaches creative writing at Wesleyan University.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 6 comments:

SeattleBookMama, November 25, 2014 (view all comments by SeattleBookMama)
This story is a winner. I defy anyone to read it and not love it! I was fortunate enough to read my copy free of charge as an ARC, but sooner or later I will have to pony up and pay for Bloom's work, because having read this little gem, I will follow her anywhere.

The setting is the Depression Era through the end of the second world war; the story takes place all over the United States, from the midwest to California to New York. The protagonist, Eve, and her sister, Iris are girls (and then women) who are what social workers euphemistically call people who have fallen through the safety net--not that much of one existed back then. Their father and Evie's mother are almost more liabilities than assets, and from almost the get go, they are on their own.

A large cast of secondary but engaging characters weaves its way through the sisters' adventures, but each is so believable, so palpable that there is never the slightest danger that the reader will mix one up with another, anymore than you might inadvertently mix up your own family and friends. These flawed but fascinating characters often do things that startle us, leave one's jaw hanging ("Oh no, you DIDN'T just do that!) yet their behaviors are always consistent with what they have said and done before. Just as with a ne'er-do-well relative, I found myself sometimes grimly nodding and saying, "You know, it doesn't surprise me a bit."

Eve and Iris see others betray them and commit every possible venial sin and perhaps a few mortal ones into the bargain, and indeed, they themselves become charlatans, thieves, snake oil salesmen (of a sort) in order to survive. All of this is depicted with such a winning narrative, changing perspectives and yet never the overall truth.

In most circumstances, Eve is set apart in her effort, when possible, to do the right thing, and by her loyalty to those she loves best.

Ultimately of course, it is not the storyline or the setting that sets this story apart from whatever other fiction has recently been released. It is the voice, Bloom's sassy, ironic, and sometimes devilishly understated narrative that hooks the reader, leaves us unable to let go till the last page is turned.

Bloom is an award winner for other work, and it wouldn't surprise me at all if she receives another for this. If I were to compare her work with anyone's, it would be Fannie Flagg, because of the character development and the whimsy.

In the end,I realized she does not mean the title to be entirely ironic. We are indeed lucky to have even flawed and difficult people in our lives. Loneliness is the ultimate cause of sorrow. Bloom convinced me that I am lucky too. What a wonderful message, and from a truly gifted writer! I can't wait to read the rest of her work.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
Toshio, October 21, 2014 (view all comments by Toshio)
I love this book for what it is: a heartfelt picaresque journey into adulthood for sisters Eva (the plain pragmatic one) and Iris (the shooting star aspiring actress). Told through a series of vignettes, epistolary exchange and flashbacks, Amy Bloom utilizes her talents as a short story writer to create a hilarious and sometimes heartbreaking character driven romp set amidst the wild chaos of 1940s America.

Those who are only interested in detailed novels with broad canvases would probably be suited better by other authors, but for those who enjoy short story writing, this is a gem. Amy Bloom is one of the best.

Interesting side note, Bloom gives thanks to her heralded cousin for suggestions and line edits--Harold Bloom.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
Michael Waldron, August 20, 2014 (view all comments by Michael Waldron)
Amy Bloom spins quite a tale in Lucky Us. A very well-written, plot-driven novel set in the 1940s, with a narrator who is somewhat of a foil for all the various and sundry characters who gather around her, including her starlet sister, her ne'er do-well father, and a somewhat surprising young man. A fast read, as the pace of the plot keeps moving consistently.
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(1 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)
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Product Details

ISBN:
9781400067244
Author:
Bloom, Amy
Publisher:
Random House
Subject:
Historical
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Publication Date:
20140731
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Language:
English
Pages:
256
Dimensions:
9.62 x 6.61 x 1.03 in 1.07 lb

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Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
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Lucky Us Used Hardcover
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$17.95 In Stock
Product details 256 pages Random House - English 9781400067244 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

Amy Bloom's hypnotic and gorgeous new novel displays her trademarks — remarkable narrative skill and richly drawn, evocative characters. Iris and Eva, half-sisters creating a family in World War II-era America, will draw you in and not let go. Perfect summer reading.

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Two teenaged half-sisters make their way through WWII-era America in Bloom's imaginative romp. After being left on her father's Ohio doorstep by her absconding mother, 11-year-old Eva meets Iris, the older half-sister she never knew she had. They escape to Hollywood, where Iris hopes to become a movie star. But they wind up on Long Island, where the girls and their father, Edgar, find employment in the home of the nouveau riche Torelli family. Over the course of the story, Edgar develops a relationship with a black jazz singer named Clara Williams, Iris falls in love with the Torellis' cook, Reenie Heitmann, and Eva learns to read the tarot and sets herself up as a psychic. Joining the lively cast is Francisco Diego, a Hollywood makeup artist; Gus, Reenie's German husband, who is deported; and Danny, an orphan who is ultimately raised by Eva. On the way to a gloriously satisfying ending, these characters are separated by fate and distance, but form a vividly rendered patchwork American family (straight, gay, white, black, citizen, immigrant). Bloom (Away) transforms history to create a story of stunning invention, with characters that readers will feel lucky to encounter." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Review" by , Lucky Us indeed — another Amy Bloom book. And, if it’s possible, even more powerful and affecting than her last novel, Away. This is a poignant book that manages to be funny, an unflinching portrait that manages to be tender, a tough story that manages to also have jazz and grace. Bloom is a great writer who keeps stepping into new territory, entirely unafraid. She is one of America’s unique and most gifted literary voices.”
"Review" by , Lucky Us is a remarkable accomplishment. One waits a long time for a novel of this scope and dimension, replete with surgically drawn characters, a mix of comedy and tragedy that borders on the miraculous, and sentences that should be in a sentence museum. Amy Bloom is a treasure.”
"Review" by , "These two things about Amy Bloom's surprise-filled Lucky Us are indisputable: It opens with a terrific hook and closes with an image of exquisite resolution....She writes sharp, sparsely beautiful scenes that excitingly defy expectation, and part of the pleasure of reading her is simply keeping up with her. You won't know where Lucky Us is headed until, suddenly, it's there."
"Review" by , "A fireworks display of delightful, if sometimes confounding, surprises...wildly twisting...spryly spontaneous."
"Review" by , "[A] kaleidoscopic take on life in the tumultuous '40s....In an exquisitely imagined novel, Amy Bloom wows....Lucky Us is a tale of a family weathering tragedies intimate and global."
"Review" by , "Bighearted, rambunctious...a bustling tale of American reinvention...[a] high-octane tale of two half-sisters who take it upon themselves to reverse their sorry, motherless fortunes....If America has a Victor Hugo, it is Amy Bloom, whose picaresque novels roam the world, plumb the human heart and send characters into wild roulettes of kismet and calamity....Love will fizz and fizzle, outrageous lies will be told, orphans will find happiness and heartbreak, and fate will sweep in to drive characters into hellish corners of the world....There are few American novelists writing today who can spin a yarn as winningly....Welcome to America, dear reader. Lucky us."
"Review" by , "A multilayered, historical tale about different kinds of love and family. Bloom enlivens her story with understated humor as well as offbeat and unforgettable characters....A hard-luck coming-of-age story with heart."
"Review" by , "Unrepentantly quirky, a madcap romp complete with road trips, secret identities, aspiring Hollywood starlets, and a tarot card-reading fake psychic....At its core, this is a novel of resilience, with the war serving as both a life-changing event and no more than the background noise of an impoverished existence. Full of intriguing characters and lots of surprises...readers of literary fiction and twentieth-century historicals, as well as fans of wacky humor, will find it an excellent choice."
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