Ballantine Books, Hardcover, 9781400060634, 336pp.
Publication Date: August 28, 2007
Louise Shaffer follows her beloved novels The Three Miss Margarets and The Ladies of Garrison Gardens with an unforgettable tale of poignancy, wit, and high drama.
Katie Harder and Randa Jennings live on opposite coasts, have never met, and have almost nothing in common–except that they’re both named after Shakespearean characters. Everything Katie has ever done or possessed–her New York City co-op, her career as a writer for a daytime drama–was given to her by her late mother, in her day a flamboyant soap opera queen. Randa, on the other hand, has escaped the trappings of a difficult past and forged a life as a single mom, juggling her work as a Hollywood business manager with the needs of her precocious eleven-year-old daughter.
Life takes an unpredictable turn for these two strangers when they jointly inherit the century-old Venable Opera House, a stately but run-down theater in small-town Georgia. Puzzled at this peculiar legacy, Katie and Randa are at first eager to unload their white elephant. But as they spend more time in the old theater, they come to realize that a rich heritage is at stake. A line of strong women–starting with Juliet Venable in the late nineteenth century–has been responsible for keeping the grand old place up and running. In the face of huge obstacles, including a dying theater culture and their own personal struggles, these singular women have gone to drastic measures to keep the opera house in the family–including burying a devastating family secret that could destroy the carefully cultivated Venable legend forever.
Now, as a local contractor seeks to tear down the landmark, Katie and Randa must decide not only if they want to unravel their mysterious connection to the theater and maintain its tradition but if they have what it takes to keep the Venable family legacy alive.
A sprawling page-turner about maintaining family honor and lifelong dreams, Family Acts is Louise Shaffer’s most powerful and assured novel to date.
Praise for Louise Shaffer
The Three Miss Margarets
“Rich, funny . . . Fans of Fannie Flagg and Adriana Trigiani, take note. Shaffer has created a little piece of heaven.”
–The Miami Herald
“A romp of a read . . . Shaffer tells a good story that’s part mystery but mostly an exploration of loyalty and friendship.”
–St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“The Miss Margarets are treasures. . . . Shaffer unfolds the story deftly. . . . Each of the three Miss Margarets is a wonderfully realized character; each has a closely guarded secret life.”
–The Boston Globe
The Ladies of Garrison Gardens
“An affecting blend of Adriana Trigiani’s affable Big Stone Gap novels [and] Fannie Flagg’s lively southern sensibilities.”
–The Miami Herald
“Pour a glass of sweet tea and settle in for some top-notch entertainment.”
“Delightful . . . Shaffer gathers all the elements of engaging suspense: violent death, switched identities, blackmail and contrasting worlds of magnolia gentility and vaudeville seediness.”
“Enthralling and original, Shaffer’s latest is truly an unexpected pleasure.”