LADY LUCK'S MAP OF VEGAS

Barbara Samuel, Author . Ballantine $23.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-345-46912-0

A mother and daughter lurch down memory lane via Route 66 in this affectionate but bumpy novel. Spunky, charming and recently widowed Eldora Redding, a former coquette in Sinatra-era Vegas, cajoles daughter India, a hip, cynical Web designer, to conduct them from Colorado Springs to Sin City in Eldora's snazzy Thunderbird for some female bonding. They also search for India's schizophrenic twin, Gypsy, who paints hauntingly beautiful pictures of roadside crosses and drifts among homeless shelters in New Mexico. Eldora feels the need to disclose a few hidden truths about her past, while India wants to keep a secret or two. Samuel (The Goddesses of Kitchen Avenue ) ping-pongs between narrators as Eldora's abrupt and outrageous disclosures cut to the heart of her daughter's secret fears—India is struggling with an unwanted pregnancy and a resolutely noncommittal romance. Samuel's prose easily shifts between Eldora's drawling pleasantries and India's slick repartee. But as Eldora's volley of true confessions spike in shock value, all India can do is marvel, sympathize and seethe until the next bomb drops, as a bit of tabloid tawdriness strains the credibility that Samuel's warmly drawn heroines inspire. Route 66, with its ersatz tourist temptations and slightly menacing air, provides a rich and evocative backdrop for Samuel's moving, if melodramatic, narrative. Agent, Meg Ruley. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 12/06/2004
Release date: 01/01/2005
Genre: Fiction
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