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3.66  ·  Rating details ·  894 ratings  ·  124 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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3.66  · 
Rating details
 ·  894 ratings  ·  124 reviews

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Ange H
Sep 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Well that was just fantastic! If you like a big, fabulous soapy drama with a side of Broadway glamour, you can’t go wrong with this story about three generations of women struggling to live their dreams. I devoured it in less than a day.
May 13, 2009 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
Christine Williams
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
May 09, 2009 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
Mandy Easley
Jul 24, 2016 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.
Jul 27, 2011 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
Sydne Scivally
Jan 17, 2016 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.
Arapahoe Libraries
Aug 25, 2009 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
Feb 14, 2017 rated it liked it
I really enjoyed this book, and had a hard time putting it down. It's true what other readers said: it's a bit fluffy. So if you're looking for something that will involve deep thinking, look elsewhere.
Carrie isn't as interesting as the other women in her family, but that's okay; the other stories make up for it. I enjoyed how the book spans several generations, and how the author described the different places and times. My imagination probably helped, but I could really picture each place, fr
Nicole (( lost in the book's world ))
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
Aug 16, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: gave-up-on
Not a fan. I like my five senses to be engaged when I am reading. This book failed to do this. In all fairness I couldn't finish this book because the writing was not to my liking.
Jun 19, 2013 rated it it was ok
This was a nice story but I was never able to get involved with the characters.
May 05, 2011 rated it it was ok
I guess just picking up any book at the library generally doesn't yield good results... but I really liked the title :) Not that great of a read
Nov 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Loved it! Picked it up at my local library by chance. I needed a book to take with me to New York City for the marathon to read on the plane and the airport. It was cool to be walking up and down the same streets that this book mentions and going to the theater to see Wicked, I had a new perspective on the theater scene. I enjoyed the way it was written and how it moved through time even in the same chapter. It was surprisingly easy to follow. I loved how each character was portrayed, so differe ...more
Claudia Cheyne
Jan 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Something keeps holding Carrie Manning back from allowing happiness to come into her life. Her mother recently died from cancer. But Rose never shared information about herself with her daughter. So Carrie looks up people who tell the story of three generations of Italian women and the events that shaped their lives. How did mothers pass on to their daughters the strength and ability to strike out on their own to discover the kind of life they wanted?
Jan 04, 2019 rated it did not like it
Most of this reading, I told myself 2 stars, .. But nope. This book sucked-Up one way and down the other. Boring. Pointless. Nobody was likable. In the end, the dead lady got blamed for everything, when she had spent her life being emotionally abused. But don't get me wrong, she was a bitch, ... And so was her mother, ... and husband, ... and daughter. The only thing that wasn't crappy was the cover. It was very pretty... Much too pretty for this novel.
Mar 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
All the world’s a stage

A look inside the hearts and minds of those people who’s work—or art—is their life. And, how this driven pursuit affects the people that love them. I enjoyed the rhythm of every other chapter switching from past to present. It made it easy to follow and I enjoyed the varying point of view from the different characters’ voices.
Sep 12, 2017 rated it liked it
Families have secrets and this book does an excellent job of exploring three generations of women and what they hide and how it affects their lives. I really liked the format and I think this is an author I will absolute read more of.
Jan 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
This good was actually surprisingly really good. I really got to understand all the main female characters. It took me a bit to get into it at first, but it became to me an honest type of read. Very good read!
Aug 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very enjoyable book to read.
Stacy Coleman
Aug 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Surprisingly good book. Great summer read!
L.K. Hunsaker
Jun 14, 2018 rated it liked it
An interesting read with lots of nice mother/daughter/family issues. Much of it was "this is what happened" rather than pulling you into the story very deeply, but a good read.
Anne Washington
Jul 06, 2018 rated it liked it
Not my favorite Shaffer book...although I did finish reading it in just two days.
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 18, 2009 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
Jan Adkins
Feb 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
I'd really give it a 3.5* rating if I knew how. Regardless, the plot was interesting and moved quickly enough that I kept turning the pages. The ending may have been a bit trite, but sometimes serendipity does step in and bring a happy ending.
Mrs. S
Oct 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 28, 2009 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
Mar 26, 2014 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
Sep 13, 2011 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
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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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