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3.61  ·  Rating Details ·  686 Ratings  ·  108 Reviews
Louise Shaffer brings to life three generations of Italian American women in this stunning novel of surprises, secrets, and serendipity.

A child of theatrical royalty, Carrie Manning is having a hard time getting her own act together. Thirty-seven, aimless, and having just buried a famous mother she never understood, she is desperate to uncover her family’s mysterious past
Paperback, 341 pages
Published March 24th 2009 by Ballantine Books (first published January 1st 2009)
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Jul 20, 2014 Lisa rated it it was amazing
"Serendipity" is definitely a new favorite! My copy came marked with a sticker declaring the novel a "Must Read", and I feel like this is true, particularly if you are a lover of historical fiction or a self-proclaimed "theater geek", both of which I am. It's a rather fluffy read in the sense that it's quick and easy, no deep thinking required, but the story definitely has heart and truly beautiful moments as it explores the bonds which hold together---and the forces that tear apart---four gener ...more
May 15, 2009 Marjanne rated it liked it
The story is a bit fluffy, but entertaining. I did not have to think much, and it read pretty quickly. The characters are interesting, though I thought it was funny that the 'main character' didn't really feel like the main character. She is overshadowed a lot by her mother and grandmother. It seemed strange to me that the people the main character talked with about her mother and grandmother seems to have so much insight into their minds. Basically, supposedly a character is narrating a portion ...more
Aug 02, 2011 Rachel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Carrie Manning is the daughter of a legend. Her mother, Rose Manning, is renowned for her philanthropic efforts and devotion to a homeless shelter. At Rose's funeral, little is discussed about Rose's family and her past, instead the focus was on her mission. That is all Carrie seems to know about her larger than life mother; she has refused to let her know more.
Now that her mother is gone, Carrie is at a crossroads in her life. She is torn between wanting to know more information about Rose and
I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I happened to find it on my shelves recently, but I bought it awhile ago (at Borders, according to the sticker on the book!) and just never got around to reading it. I sort of expected that this would be a pretty standard fluff book, but it was better than I thought. I actually developed a connection to the characters, especially by the end of the book, and I really didn't expect that to happen. I really like how the author switches the POV throughout the ...more
Arapahoe Libraries
Aug 25, 2009 Arapahoe Libraries rated it it was amazing
Shelves: joannes-picks
If you treasure Broadway as much as I do, then this is the book for you. This wonderful novel depicts three generations of women and their stories - starting with the Italian great grandmother who came to America as a sixteen year old bride.

Carrie is a thirty-seven year-old child of theatrical royalty who is desperate to uncover the family's mysterious past to maybe get a clue as to who and what she is. Her charismatic genius father died young and her estranged esteemed actress and singer grand
Nicole *`((O_O))`*
I am glad I did bought cheap book at my old Library :) ONLY 50 cents...or one dollar? YEAH! Oh boy, I already miss my old Library D:

This book is so beautiful because Carrie do not know about Mother's past and history with families that she never told Carrie about it. After her mother died then Carrie is super curious why her mother and grandmother doesn't talk to other each. Carrie finally found the answer after she met her Uncle, then George, then grandmother. SO BEAUTIFUL. I am really enjoy th
Mandy Easley-Beck
Jul 24, 2016 Mandy Easley-Beck rated it really liked it
This is a great vacation book. Easy to pick up and get lost in, yet not so intensive that you have to stay engaged with it for long periods of time. I was able to read this in 4 hours. The characters are engaging and honest in a way that is refreshing for a grandmother-mother-daughter novel. The emotions were real without being overplayed and the main character was relatable without being pretentious. A great read that is perfect for short bursts or as a break between heavier reading.
Jessica R
Great book to read on a beach vacation. I love how it is human nature to know the stories of our ancestors. And oh how important it is to marry for the right reasons.
Jul 19, 2009 Cindy rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2009-read
This book provided a glimpse into the lives of one Italian-American family and theatrical royalty from the 50's to the 70's. The chapters were set up into different time periods and provided an understanding of the devotion it took to be a star to the detriment of family and other personal relationships. It seemed that in the background family was still at the heart of this touching story.

Carries Manning's mother passed away and she feels lost. She seems to be searching for herself; who she is a
Mrs. S
Oct 07, 2012 Mrs. S rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 17, 2009 Annalisa rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! Any book set in New York City immeditely peaks my interest, but this book is not only set in New York, but also explores the inside world of Broadway. It begins with the death of Carrie's mother, a famous philanthropist. Carrie doesn't know her grandmother, a famous broadway star, and her father, a famous broadway composer, died when she was very young. And now, she wants answers about her past. Why did her mother stop speaking to her grandmother? What really happened to her f ...more
Apr 04, 2014 Karen rated it really liked it
This story was a nice surprise! It was originally given to me in a stack of paperbacks that someone was getting rid of-- at a glance most of the stack was too "fluffy" for me, so I set them aside. One day when I was out of books to read, I read this on out of desperation and found it to be anything but "fluffy"!

The story follow's Carrie's (37 years old) journey as she takes a hard look at her life following the death of her mother. Carrie's family is considered "Broadway Royalty" because her gra
Sydne Scivally
Jan 17, 2016 Sydne Scivally rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone wanting to read well-written women
Shelves: favorites
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 13, 2011 Kendra rated it really liked it
If I had to pick one word to describe this book I would say it would have to be GUILT. The story follows three generations of women who have all done less than stellar things in their life, but instead of dealing with their mistakes in mature and adult ways, decided instead to let things fester and grow to the point that the third generation Carrie finds herself having a near-nervous breakdown and in need of answers.

This tale was captivating. By the time I was into the third chapter I couldn't
Kirsten Griffith
Nov 30, 2014 Kirsten Griffith rated it really liked it
A beautifully told tale of family, pride, and self-discovery, Serendipity is a story that successfully follows the lives of several women without falling into the dreaded 'chick lit' category. Juxtaposing past and present, mother and daughter, New Haven and New York City, this series of vignettes lets us into the hearts and minds of a web of characters, each one unique, each one engagingly developed through the eyes of the others. This story was the first in a long time to compel me to read it i ...more
Oct 02, 2012 Frances rated it really liked it
Ok, I'm superficial sometimes. I was first sucked in by the cover photo. Then by the blurb on the back of the book. Then by the book itself...thank goodness. Hate when the first two things happen but the third doesn't. With a theatrical background and with more than my share of knowledge of what the intrigues of that life can be, I thought that this would be enjoyable and it was. Just enough of each main character to make my own decisions of whether I liked them or didn't. Hate it when the chara ...more
I tell you, I LOVE this author! I have always been a HUGE fan of any author that weaves a tale of generations of strong women and how their lives intersect and overlap. I freakin' love it! And all of her books do this - and they all connect together, even if by a teeny, tiny thread.

This book was near and dear to my heart. Carrie is wrapping up her Mother's legal stuff and selling her home after her Mom passes away. She has lived a life of dedication and devotion to her ramrod straight Mother and
Nov 04, 2009 Alice rated it really liked it
This is a three-and-a-half-star book, elevated to four because it's much better than most of the chicklit I've read lately. Carrie, the main character is a somewhat dysfunctional thirtysomething descended from a line of showbiz royalty, whose mother, a society fixture-cum-philanthropic martyr, has just died. Carrie starts digging in her family history to understand why her mother and grandmother were estranged, etc. The flashback scenes from the 1940s and 1960s are great, but the author never co ...more
May 27, 2009 Lisa rated it really liked it
Surprisingly enjoyable.

After the first couple of chapters I thought I had the story figured out and it was going to be another predictably twisting plot. Instead it was interesting, engaging, and the chapter-by-chapter switching between time periods was a fun way to get the feel of each generation and discover the stories of the great grandmother, grandmother, mother, and daughter.

If I could offer my one complaint it would be that the end tied up a little too quickly for my taste. The rest of
Apr 27, 2009 Alissa rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of Adriana Trigiana
I really enjoyed reading this book - the well drawn characters and the historical aspect captivated me. Also, I was intrigued by the mystery of what happened between Carrie's mother and grandmother to keep them from talking for 30+ years.

Carrie is the daughter and granddaughter of theater royalty. Her grandmother is Lu Lawson, a famous stage actress, and her father was Bobby Manning, the great composer and writer. Carrie though has lived with her mother, who runs a shelter, and never met Lu. So
Lisa James
Jan 18, 2012 Lisa James rated it liked it
Easy to read multi-generational story about Carrie, daughter of a great philanthropist mother & a Broadway musical genius, & granddaughter of one of Broadway's leading stars, she knows nothing about her family but rumors & gossip. But when Carrie's mother dies, she goes on a journey to learn about her past, & the father she doesn't remember, the mother she never really KNEW, & the grandmother she never met. Along the way she discovers herself, & who she can be.

This is a c
Mary Kay
Jan 30, 2010 Mary Kay rated it liked it
Carrie Manning has just buried her mother, a well-known do-gooder who actually lived as she preached. But Carrie has never met the rest of her family due to her mother's estrangement from them. Carrie's late father was a famous composer & her grandmother the toast of Broadway once upon a time. Carrie meets with relatives & acquaintances of her parents to try to solve the mysteries that cloud the past 30 years. We get exciting glimpses of Broadway & the story of 3 generations of heads ...more
Jul 15, 2009 Deb rated it liked it
Shelves: families
This is about a daughter's search to understand why her mother cut herself entirely from her mother and the rest of her family. So, part of the story is the main character's, but a great deal of it concerns the story of her grandmother becoming a star on Broadway, the birth of her mother, who was raised by her grandmother and how her father and mother met. I liked the main character and enjoyed the back story, but the recently deceaed mother came across s selfish and vindictive, someone who made ...more
Joyce Marie
Jul 21, 2013 Joyce Marie rated it it was amazing
Found this book in the library...loved the cover and title. Opened it for the first time and was instantly hooked. It became my constant companion for the last 3 days so that I could grab a moment in between doing laundry or whatever I was doing. I had been longing for a deep story and this one did not disappoint. I loved the way this author went between current day and flashback...secrets unfolded, hurtful memories. I loved, especially the older characters, made me miss my great grandmother who ...more
Glenda L
Sep 23, 2013 Glenda L rated it really liked it
I liked this book ... this was a real character novel. An engaging family saga of three generations ... an immigrant bride, a glamorous actress, and their benefactor ... and the secret that binds them. They were three strong women struggling to live their lives the only way they knew how: the grandmother was torn between the ways of the old country and the new, her rebellious daughter full of acting talent, and now Carrie, the granddaughter embarks on a journey to discover their pasts. This is a ...more
Apr 12, 2011 Maureen rated it really liked it
An interesting tale about Mothers and daughters, honor, guilt, loyalty, pride, love and utlimately forgiveness interwoven with a journey back to New York theater in the 1950's & 60's. Shaffer seamlessly tells the story of four generations of women moving between the past and the present effortlessly. I enjoyed the journey on this quick read and will definitely pick up more of Louise Schaffer's work.
Janet Beasley
Jun 14, 2012 Janet Beasley rated it really liked it
I love a good family saga. One with strong characters, impacting each others lives, pulled together by family ties despite the conflicts...Serendipity has it all. Set in New Haven, CT (just down the road from where I was born)and moving from PreWWII to the present, the story weaves together the richness of the lives of a great grandmother, grandmother, mother and daughter. Oh, and did I mention the conflict revolves around Broadway and the era of the great musicals? Good reading!
Apr 28, 2010 Kelly rated it really liked it
Serendipity is the story of a woman contacting old family friends to piece together her family history to find out more about her recently deceased mother. It jumps back and forth between present day and the lives of her mother, grandmother (a Broadway star, which is part of what makes the book so enjoyable), and great-grandmother. The book is a fast read with a touch of the immigrant experience, which is one of my favorite themes.
Mar 07, 2016 RumBelle rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
As someone who used to work in community theater, this book was something I really related to. It is about 3 generations of Italian American women, all of whom were involved in the theater, and the secrets in their lives. The part of the book that is present day deals with the daughter who is trying to sort through her mother and grandmother's lives and her own. A funny, heartwarming, entertaining book.
Jun 21, 2010 Bev rated it it was ok
Just a reminder to myself to not read Reader's Digest Select Editions, even if they are easier than everything else I'm trying to read right now. Ridiculous novel with odd psychology and without-my-values. I didn't care about the characters. The author must think that readers want to read about rich and performing women.
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Louise is a believer in there’s always a second chance. An actress since she was fifteen, she found herself unemployed when she was in her mid-forties. The reason was…well, she was in her mid-forties. Not a good thing if you’re an actress – aging and eating are taboo. Louise has done both. Also, she was pretty clear about the fact that she was never going to have “knee surgery.” That’s what happen ...more
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