Friday, April 8, 2011
Book Review: Strings Attached by Judy Blundell
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
From National Book Award winner Judy Blundell, the tale of a sixteen-year-old girl caught in a mix of love, mystery, Broadway glamour, and Mob retribution in 1950 New York.
When Kit Corrigan arrives in New York City, she doesn't have much. She's fled from her family in Providence, Rhode Island, and she's broken off her tempestuous relationship with a boy named Billy, who's enlisted in the army.
The city doesn't exactly welcome her with open arms. She gets a bit part as a chorus girl in a Broadway show, but she knows that's not going to last very long. She needs help--and then it comes, from an unexpected source.
Nate Benedict is Billy's father. He's also a lawyer involved in the mob. He makes Kit a deal--he'll give her an apartment and introduce her to a new crowd. All she has to do is keep him informed about Billy . . . and maybe do him a favor every now and then.
As she did in her National Book Award-winning What I Saw and How I Lied, Judy Blundell traps readers in a web of love, deceit, intrigue, and murder. The result? One stunner of a novel.
My thoughts: I loved this book! I really enjoy historical fiction, especially if the details are accurate and precise. I also love a good mystery! This book had mystery, murder, romance and the mob.
Strings Attached takes place in mostly in 1950 with some flashbacks to the 1940s. Kit Corrigan is one of the (formerly) famous Corrigan Three. Being part of a triplet, performing act since birth, Kit knew she was destined for the big stage. After a family fight, she leaves her traditional Irish home for New York City.
While there, she meets up with Nate, her former boyfriends father. Nate is also an attorney for the Mafia. Wanting to get his son Billy and Kit back together, he offers Kit an appartment of her own, new and fashionable clothing and a job as an elite "Lido Doll". While it's not Broadway, it's a paying job and so Kit agrees. The only condition is that she let Nate know what his estranged son is up too and when he comes to town. At least, that is what Kit thinks the condition is. As she gets further entangled with Nate, not only does she find out secrets about her own family, but she becomes Nate's spy for the mafia.
I really identified with Kit because of her issues with her boyfriend/ex-boyfriend, Billy. I had a boyfriend just like Billy once. One that was prone to jealous fits, angry outbursts and completely immature behaviour. However, unlike Kit, I said "screw it" and left. Kit continually put up with the abuse and swore she couldn't live without Billy. Because of this, I thought Kit was somewhat weak and annoying.
I hated Billy. Maybe it was because I kept picturing my ex-boyfriend and it dredged up old feelings or maybe that was the author's intention. I had no sympathy for Billy, even after the details of past events came to light. I thought he was completely childish and self-absorbed. However, I did not expect what happened to Billy at the end. I liked that I was thrown off like that.
I really liked Kit's father (Jimmy) and her aunt (Delia). I could understand the things that Delia did. I loved how there was a slight mystery to her disappearance and then an ending that answered all questions and tied everything together. Again though, I was caught completely off guard with what happens to Delia at the end. I had a suspicion of what would happen in the paragraph before but no clue before then.
Kit's brother was a mystery to me as well. I'm still trying to figure out if he was straight or gay, if he had a crush on Billy or not and if anything ever happened between him and Billy. A lot of unresolved questions for me but maybe I just missed something.
Strings Attached had vivid descriptions of New York City and not just during the day. Kit was a "Lido Doll" and didn't leave the club until 3:00 AM. However, she described walking through the New York streets at that crazy hour and how alive it was. I could picture the apartment perfectly, right down to the ray of sunshine that crossed the kitchen table.
The research and details of New York in 1950 was great! The characters were well developed and the story had just the right amount of romance, mystery and suspense. I could hardly put the book down!