Family Acts

Louise Shaffer, Author . Ballantine $24.95 (324p) ISBN 978-1-4000-6063-4

In Shaffer's delightful third novel, lifelong New Yorker Katharine “Katie” Harder works listlessly as a script writer on the same show that made her deceased mother, Rosalind Harder, a soap opera legend. Miranda “Randa” Jennings is an obsessive Hollywood business manager determined to make childhood better for her 11-year-old daughter, Susie, than her actor father made it for her. When each learns she has inherited a mysterious property, high-strung Miranda and second-guessing Katie both head to sleepy Massonville, Ga., to discover that they are mutual beneficiaries of a falling-apart theater known as the Venable opera house. Despite their skepticism, both become intrigued with the stories the theater holds and wonder if they are in fact related, especially when they hear how the Venable family “always named their children after characters in Shakespeare's plays”—as both women are. Shaffer (The Three Miss Margarets ) then rolls back to the beginning of the Venable dynasty, and Randa and Katie struggle with a potential sale to a ruthless developer. While some plot points, including an abrupt, too-tidy ending, are as worn as the opera house floor, Randa and Katie's self-discoveries are sweet, fast-paced and full of heart. (Aug.)

Reviewed on: 06/25/2007
Release date: 08/01/2007
Library Binding - 415 pages - 978-1-60285-053-8
Open Ebook - 243 pages - 978-0-307-48462-8
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