Juno's Daughters: A Novel by Lise Saffran | Paperback | Barnes & Noble
Juno's Daughters: A Novel

Juno's Daughters: A Novel

4.1 8
by Lise Saffran
     
 

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Love takes center stage when a single mother and her teenage daughters play Juno, Iris and Ceres in a summer production of The Tempest.

Jenny Alexander has sought refuge from a troubled past on a tiny, verdant island, off the coast of Washington state. Surrounded by the cold water of the Puget Sound, she does her best to raise her girls, innocent

Overview

Love takes center stage when a single mother and her teenage daughters play Juno, Iris and Ceres in a summer production of The Tempest.

Jenny Alexander has sought refuge from a troubled past on a tiny, verdant island, off the coast of Washington state. Surrounded by the cold water of the Puget Sound, she does her best to raise her girls, innocent Frankie, and thrill-seeking Lilly, in a tight-knit community of eccentrics and dreamers.

The island bursts open each summer with the arrival of actors leading the annual Shakespeare production. A handsome thespian from New York reawakens Jenny to long-buried desires. As the intensity of rehearsals builds toward the live run of The Tempest, a potent mixture of actors, islanders and tourists, besotted by verse and swept up in the romance of the theater, spills the enchantment of the play into the lives of the players.

When Jenny finds her daughters caught up in a "brave new world" of love and heartbreak, she is ultimately thrust into a command performance that will resonate in all their lives.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In Saffran's wonderfully immersive debut, a summer Shakespeare production brings new life, love, and drama to the sleepy Pacific Northwest island of San Juan. Islander Jenny Alexander finds her interest unexpectedly piqued by Andre, a handsome, charismatic actor taking part in this year's production. Jenny is not alone in her admiration; her beautiful 17-year-old daughter Lilly notices Andre as well. While younger daughter Frankie wrestles with typical adolescent traumas, the family of three get drawn into the world of The Tempest and begin to examine their lives in ways they never expected, with potentially profound results. Readers will find themselves caught up in the isolated island communities of the Puget Sound, which reflect the Shakespearean themes without losing their own unique expressiveness. Saffran's prose is delicate and precise, and her focus on the Bard reveals an obvious affection for the English language. She has created an excellent protagonist in Jenny, balancing her growth with that of her daughters, and takes care in giving them all enough room to grow. (Jan.)
Library Journal
Jenny, a single mom of two teenage daughters, lives on San Juan Island off the coast of Washington State and is gearing up for the annual summer theater festival. This year, it's a production of Shakespeare's The Tempest, and Jenny finds herself getting involved with one of the professional actors brought in from New York. Trouble is, her elder daughter, Lily, likes him as well. To add to the stress of the summer, Jenny's younger daughter, 13-year-old Frankie, decides to escape from all of the literal and figurative drama and runs away to Seattle. VERDICT Debut novelist Saffran paints a nice portrait of a close-knit, creative community and all the quirks that go along with it. Shakespearean references abound, which makes for a treat for literary fiction fans, yet it's done with a light enough touch that those unfamiliar with The Tempest or other such works won't feel left out. For fans of introspective women's fiction, such as Elin Hildebrand's family novels.—Rebecca Vnuk, Forest Park, IL
Kirkus Reviews

Saffran's tale of an unconventional mother and her two daughters takes readers to the islands of the Pacific Northwest.

The Juno in the title is Jennifer "Jenny" Alexander, mother to 17-year-old Lilly and 13-year-old Frankie. Lilly, gorgeous, rebellious and aware of her own sexuality, is a recent high-school graduate working her way not through college but through all the men on tiny San Juan Island. San Juan, which is only reachable by ferry from the mainland, is part of a chain of small islands where life is still stuck in the peacenik hippie years. In fact, most of the residents of San Juan are aging hippies themselves. Dale, an unapologetic dirty old man, and his wife, Peg, each year bring a Shakespearean play to the islands. They stage parties where guests bring hash brownies and are famous for holding a rehearsal in which the cast appears in the nude. Jenny, a weaver who barely squeaks out a living, fled to San Juan when her rock guitarist husband, Monroe, beat her one time too many. The girls have grown up in a time warp on the island, without television or computers. But Frankie suffers from the looming loss of her best friend, Phoenix, who is moving to the mainland to escape the isolation. Lilly and Jenny, meanwhile, both lust after the same man, an actor slated to play Trinculo in The Tempest. Lilly, dreadlocked and occasionally stoned, puts a full court press on Trinculo, but he prefers Jenny. The three Alexander women are cast in the production, which opens the door for emotional drama and much second-guessing. Saffran's prose is wonderful, but her characters wax self-indulgent at times: Jenny congratulates herself that her children only use organic drugs instead of the hard stuff like kids on the mainland. The author also inexplicably plops a chapter written in script form in the center of the book, an unnecessary distraction that breaks the rhythm of the writing.

This debut novel will resonate with some and make others want to grab the main character, shake her by the shoulders and tell her to grow up already.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780452296732
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
01/25/2011
Pages:
336
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Lise Saffran is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, where she was an Iowa Arts Fellow. Her short fiction has appeared in a variety of literary magazines. She lives in Columbia, Missouri, with her husband and two sons.

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