Sunday, October 5, 2008

by George: A Novel by Wesley Stace

In the illustrious history of the theatrical Fishers, there are two Georges. One is a peculiar but endearing 11-year-old, raised in the seedy world of `70s boarding houses and backstages, now packed off to school for the first time; the other, a garrulous ventriloquist's dummy who belonged to George's grandfather, a favorite traveling act of the British troops in World War II. The two Georges know nothing of each other--until events conspire to unite them in a search to uncover the family's deepest secrets.

While the dummy lays dusty, silent, and abandoned, his young namesake sets out to learn about his dead grandfather's past as a world-famous ventriloquist, his magical powers, and their family's curious history. Weaving the boy's tale and the puppet's "memoirs," By George unveils the fascinating Fisher family — its weak men, its dominant women, its disgruntled boys, and its shocking and dramatic secrets. At once bitingly funny and exquisitely tender, Stace's novel is the unforgettable journey of two young boys separated by years but driven by the same desires: to find a voice, and to be loved.

My Review:
I love the layout of books like this one; one chapter is written in the voice of an eleven-year-old boy, and the next is written in the voice of a ventriloquist's made-to-order dummy (who warns that he should be called "boy" rather than "dummy.") The chapters are separated by forty-three years, so the back and forth can get a bit confusing; however, I enjoyed being forced to pay attention. No reader will quickly scan this book--nor would one want to!

The characters are all a bit quirky--much like real people. Nonetheless, I found myself looking forward to reading the "boy's" chapters. I learned a great deal about ventriloquism, along with bits about magic tricks and show business from the 1930s through 1980s, which made this an interesting read. The story is a complex family tale. I loved it!

There is some profanity.

1 comment:

Ronnica said...

I read this this fall as well and really enjoyed it!