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December 12, 2016

Review: I'll Take You There by Wally Lamb #MondayBlogs

by Susan Roberts

November 2016; HarperCollins; 9780062656292;
ebook & print (272 pages); women's fiction
a free book was provided for this review
In this radiant homage to the resiliency, strength, and power of women, Wally Lamb—author of numerous New York Times bestselling novels including She’s Come Undone, I Know This Much is True, and We Are Water—weaves an evocative, deeply affecting tapestry of one Baby Boomer's life and the trio of unforgettable women who have changed it.

I’ll Take You There centers on Felix, a film scholar who runs a Monday night movie club in what was once a vaudeville theater. One evening, while setting up a film in the projectionist booth, he’s confronted by the ghost of Lois Weber, a trailblazing motion picture director from Hollywood’s silent film era. Lois invites Felix to revisit—and in some cases relive—scenes from his past as they are projected onto the cinema’s big screen.

In these magical movies, the medium of film becomes the lens for Felix to reflect on the women who profoundly impacted his life. There’s his daughter Aliza, a Gen Y writer for New York Magazine who is trying to align her post-modern feminist beliefs with her lofty career ambitions; his sister, Frances, with whom he once shared a complicated bond of kindness and cruelty; and Verna, a fiery would-be contender for the 1951 Miss Rheingold competition, a beauty contest sponsored by a Brooklyn-based beer manufacturer that became a marketing phenomenon for two decades. At first unnerved by these ethereal apparitions, Felix comes to look forward to his encounters with Lois, who is later joined by the spirits of other celluloid muses.

Against the backdrop of a kaleidoscopic convergence of politics and pop culture, family secrets, and Hollywood iconography, Felix gains an enlightened understanding of the pressures and trials of the women closest to him, and of the feminine ideals and feminist realities that all women, of every era, must face.

Before I give you my opinion of Wally Lamb's newest book, I have to admit that I have read and loved everything he has written and he is one of my favorite authors.  This wasn't my favorite book by him but it's still a fantastic book.  The character of Felix Funicello (who we knew as a child in Wishin' and Hopin') is now 60 years old and this book is a reflection on his life helped along by a few ghosts who provide him with movies of critical points in his childhood.  He could not only view the films but he could also become part of it with the feelings that he had at the age he was viewing.  Just as important as his reviewing his life is his look at feminism in the past compared to feminism today.

I loved seeing how Felix's character evolved from his earlier book and seeing how the events in our past are what makes us the adult we are today.  To sum it up, this is a book about aging, family and feminism told in a way that only Wally Lamb could tell it.

Buy I'll Take You There at Amazon

About Wally Lamb
Wally Lamb is the author of four previous novels, including the New York Times and national bestseller The Hour I First Believed and Wishin' and Hopin', a bestselling novella. His first two works of fiction, She's Come Undone and I Know This Much Is True, were both number-one New York Times bestsellers and Oprah's Book Club selections. He lives in Connecticut with his wife, Christine. The Lambs are the parents of three sons. Find out more about Wally at his website, and connect with him on Facebook.

Susan Roberts lives in North Carolina when she isn't traveling.  She and her husband enjoy traveling, gardening and spending time with their grandson.  Susan reads almost anything (and the piles of books in her house prove that) but her favorite genres are Southern fiction, women's fiction and thrillers. Susan is a top 1% Goodreads Reviewer. You can connect with Susan on Facebook.

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  1. "this is a book about aging, family and feminism told in a way that only Wally Lamb could tell it." And if that isn't a great recommendation, I don't know what is!

    Thanks for being a part of the tour.