Beautifully written atmospheric tale

  • Book: Telling Sonny
  • Location: Vermont
  • Author: Elizabeth Gauffreau

Review Author: joycey



Faby Gauthier, the protagonist of Telling Sonny, grows up in a small town in Vermont in the 1920’s, a few miles south of the Canadian border. Both English and French are spoken in Faby’s home and her Maman (mother) and Maman Aurore (grandmother) run their household with the same pointed efficiency as Maman Aurore’s speedy knitting needles. For Faby, recently graduated from high school and at loose ends, predictability equals boredom and it’s no surprise that she falls for a Vaudevillian dancer named Slim White when his show comes to town. What is surprising is that when Slim ( whose real name is Louis Kittel) learns that Faby is pregnant, he returns to marry her and takes her on tour with him shortly thereafter. Thus begins a beautifully written and atmospheric tale in which the dreamy-eyed, optimistic Faby continues her love affair with Vaudeville even as her disillusionment with Slim’s cavalier attitude and mysterious disappearances grows with each passing day on the road.

In some books, the journey is what captivates the reader and for me this was the case. The author deftly brings to life the song and dance acts that Faby enjoys every night, the grueling train rides and increasingly seedy hotels, and regales us with tall stories swapped by performers over mid-night snacks after the show. And when Faby finally returns home to give birth, we see a different world through her eyes than the one she left. Her coming of age is painful yet tempered by a bitter-sweet revelation at the end that brought tears to my eyes.

Filled with unique and well-defined characters. An excellent read.

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