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Serendipity    by Louise Shaffer order for
by Louise Shaffer
Order:  USA  Can
Ballantine, 2009 (2009)
Softcover, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Louise Shaffer's Serendipity is the story of four generations of strong-willed, operatic Italian American women - Mifalda who came to America to marry a stranger at age sixteen and lived for her children; Lu, who followed her dream to become a Broadway musical comedy star, while her mother raised her own daughter; Rose who lived her live of self-sacrifice as a celebrity philanthropist and made her daughter walk the same walk; and Carrie, child of a glamorous showbiz couple who knew nothing of her own origins.

As the novel opens, flighty, thirty-seven year old Carrie Manning grieves over her formidable mother Rose's death. During Rose's final illness, Carrie had cancelled her wedding plans, though she's still friendly enough with her dentist ex, Howie, to call him in the middle of the night. Pushed hard to do so by her chocolatier friend Zoe (who knows she has a 'problem with follow-through'), Carrie begins to contact people who knew Rose, and might be able to tell her why her mother and grandmother became estranged after her father Bobby Manning's death.

Interspersed with Carrie's quest are flashbacks into the lives of the women who came before her - their sorrows and successes, and the big dreams they all shared, though those dreams took them in different directions. As readers get to know Mifalda, Lu, and Rose, Carrie screws up the courage to confront her grandmother. She learns about the bitterness that consumed her mother, and the penance Rose paid - and finally gets on with her own life, showing the same star power as the others. Louise Shaffer's Serendipity is a delightful read about real mothers and daughters, who misunderstand, yet still love each other.

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