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Fin & Lady
by Cathleen Schine

Overview -

From the author of "The Three Weissmanns of Westport," a wise, clever story of New York in the '60s

It's 1964. Eleven-year-old Fin and his glamorous, worldly, older half sister, Lady, have just been orphaned, and Lady, whom Fin hasn't seen in six years, is now his legal guardian and his only hope.  Read more...


 
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More About Fin & Lady by Cathleen Schine
 
 
 
Overview

From the author of "The Three Weissmanns of Westport," a wise, clever story of New York in the '60s

It's 1964. Eleven-year-old Fin and his glamorous, worldly, older half sister, Lady, have just been orphaned, and Lady, whom Fin hasn't seen in six years, is now his legal guardian and his only hope. That means Fin is uprooted from a small dairy farm in rural Connecticut to Greenwich Village, smack in the middle of the swinging '60s. He soon learns that Lady--giddy, careless, urgent, and obsessed with being free--is as much his responsibility as he is hers.
So begins "Fin & Lady," the lively, spirited new novel by Cathleen Schine, the author of the bestselling "The Three Weissmanns of Westport." Fin and Lady lead their lives against the background of the '60s, the civil rights movement, and the Vietnam War--Lady pursued by ardent, dogged suitors, Fin determined to protect his impulsive sister from them and from herself.
From a writer "The New York Times" has praised as "sparkling, crisp, clever, deft, hilarious, and deeply affecting," "Fin & Lady" is a comic, romantic love story: the story of a brother and sister who must form their own unconventional family in increasingly unconventional times.

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780374154905
  • ISBN-10: 0374154902
  • Publisher: Sarah Crichton Books
  • Publish Date: July 2013
  • Page Count: 273


Related Categories

Books > Fiction > Historical - General
Books > Fiction > Literary

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2013-05-20
  • Reviewer: Staff

Schine’s new novel (after Alice in Bed) is an entertaining, sometimes perplexing exploration of family bonds and bondage. When Fin is orphaned at the age of 11, Lady, his half-sister, takes him in, pulling him away from the dairy farm in rural Connecticut to the Greenwich Village of the mid-1960s. Lady has always been a shining figure to Fin, who was too young to understand the falling-out she had with their father. Now, Fin and Lady form an unconventional family, set against a tumultuous political and social climate. At times the novel has echoes of Auntie Mame; at others, Dawn Powell. The narrator’s voice is used so sparingly as to intrude when it is used, and the reader gets ahead of the story in figuring out who this shadowy figure is in the tale. The bond between Fin and Lady is strong, but the story itself breaks little new ground and doesn’t reveal anything new about the era or the longings of those experiencing it. Schine writes lively dialogue and excels at sensory detail, especially early on, before the plot becomes predictable, as the novel wavers precariously between satiric comedy-of-manners and something more serious. Agent: Molly Friedrich, Friedrich Agency. (July)

 
BookPage Reviews

Keeping up with a flighty sister

Cathleen Schine’s latest novel, Fin & Lady, begins at the funeral of Fin’s mother in rural Connecticut in the early 1960s. His father has already passed away, and his older half sister, Lady, whom Fin hasn’t seen in six years, is now his legal guardian. Fin’s only memory of Lady is from a trip to Capri, where he and his parents went looking for Lady after she jilted her fiancé. Glamorous, careless and charismatic, Lady seems like an unlikely guardian for an 11-year-old boy, but she is all Fin has. Together, they set up a home in New York, first in the West Side apartment Lady inherited, then in Greenwich Village, where Fin comes of age along with the decade.

Lady is obsessed with her freedom, but equally consumed with being loved, and charges Fin with the inappropriate task of selecting the perfect husband. Lady is pursued by three ardent suitors—Tyler, a lawyer and the former fiancé; Biffi Deutsch, a Hungarian gallery owner; and Jack, a preppy jock. None of them seems quite right to Fin, although he likes Biffi the best, and Lady goes from one to another with a cavalier charm. Only Fin can see the pain behind her recklessness, the urge to run that Lady fights on a daily basis.

In a more conventional novel, there would be some kind of moral comeuppance for Lady’s irresponsibility and demands for adult behavior from a teenager. But in Schine’s world, nonconformity is acceptable, even preferable, and the family you make is as important as the one you are born into. Placed against the backdrop of the revolutionary 1960s, this nontraditional family seems part and parcel of the era’s social changes.

Just as the spirit of Jane Austen wafted through The Three Weissmanns of Westport, Fin & Lady seems inspired by Homer’s Odyssey—from the three suitors who hang around the Greenwich Village apartment to the references to Capri (the original home of the Sirens) and the battered copy of the Greek epic that Lady sends to Fin after she runs away for the second time.

Schine’s novels are as light and crisp as a perfectly baked meringue. They are sentimental, but without a shred of the saccharine, and she writes with a deeply felt empathy for all her characters. This comic romance will delight her fans, and may also win her some new readers for whom the swinging ’60s in New York and Capri may hold a special appeal.

 
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