Thursday, December 29, 2016

I'll Take You There by Wally Lamb

Reading Wally Lamb's work makes me nervous. Some of his books are on my lists of all time favourite reads (I Know This Much is True and Wishin' and Hopin'), some have been kind of mediocre for me (She's Come Undone and The Hour I First Believed) and I absolutely hated one (We Are Water).  After my disturbing experience with We Are Water, I was hesitant about reading any more of his work. However, when the synopsis showed that this book revived the characters from Wishin' and Hopin', I bought the book, hoping I'd love it as much as I loved Wishin' and Hopin'.

I didn't. But it wasn't as bad as We Are Water. So I put this one in his mediocre category for me.

Felix Funicello, who was a young boy in the first book, is now in his 60's and is a professor of film studies. He is divorced, and the father of a grown daughter, who is a writer in New York City. While preparing for his Monday night film club at a local theatre (restored to it's original beauty from its beginnings in the 1920's), he encounters the ghosts of Lois Weber, a pioneering film director and Billie Dove, an actress from the 20's. They present Felix with film reels, which hold the contents of his life. He is to watch these films, relive some painful parts of his past, and learn from them.

The book is a look at the struggles women have faced over time, what we have learned from our past, and how far we still need to go. At times it read like a feminism textbook. Some of the conversations seemed forced and unnatural. But it is important to consider how women at different levels of society have been treated over the years, and what our daughters will still be facing in the years to come. Aside from that, I was disappointed in the lack of the humour I experienced the first time I met these characters. But on the whole it is a good read, and I recommend it.

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