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Ladies' Lending Library

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Overview

It is August of 1963, the year of the Taylor/Burton film epic Cleopatra, showcasing a passion too grand to be contained on the movie screen. The women of the Kalyna Beach cottage community gather for gin and gossip, trading the current racy bestsellers among themselves as they seek a brief escape from the predictable rhythms of children and chores. But dramatic change is coming this summer as innocence falters and the desire for change reaches a boiling point, threatening to disrupt the warm, sweet, heady days ...

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The Ladies' Lending Library

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Overview

It is August of 1963, the year of the Taylor/Burton film epic Cleopatra, showcasing a passion too grand to be contained on the movie screen. The women of the Kalyna Beach cottage community gather for gin and gossip, trading the current racy bestsellers among themselves as they seek a brief escape from the predictable rhythms of children and chores. But dramatic change is coming this summer as innocence falters and the desire for change reaches a boiling point, threatening to disrupt the warm, sweet, heady days and the lives of parents and children, family and friends, forever.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

The Ukrainian-Canadian housewives of idyllic 1960s Kalyna Beach, Ontario, find that show business scandal has far-reaching power in this latest from Canadian novelist Keefer, her first published in the U.S. While their husbands work, former model Sonia Martyn and friends spend the summer of 1963 watching their children on the beach and reading racy books to discuss over Friday cocktails, while the kids test the limits of their mothers' supervisory skills and traditional Ukrainian values. Moms and daughters alike have become enchanted by the new film Cleopatra and the scandalous love affair between stars Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. When the beautiful, sad wife of a local millionaire embarks on her own misbegotten affair, the ladies of Kalyna Beach feel their familiar world shift, opening up novel possibilities for freedom and betrayal. Keefer neatly captures the security and claustrophobia of immigrant communities, but diffuses her story's power with too many points of view. Just as the ladies' books cannot match the drama in their lives, this story only begins to capture the personal cost of immigration and assimilation. (Jan.)

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Kirkus Reviews
In the summer of 1963 a group of Ukrainian-Canadian housewives compare the lost opportunities of their lives to the romance of the Taylor-Burton affair. Every summer the ladies gather up swimsuits and children and head to their lake cottages at Kalyna Beach, an enclave of Ukrainian immigrants. The husbands, some wealthy, some working class, stay in the city until the weekend, leaving the ladies to their own devices. When not minding children or gossiping about each other, they read the kind of novels (Jacqueline Susann, Harold Robbins, the odd D.H. Lawrence) that good Ukrainians should probably avoid. They gather at Sasha's house (bohemian Sasha, with the adman husband and artistic ideas), where she plies them with gin and they talk about the Taylor-Burton extravaganza of Cleopatra. She confides to Sonia that something dangerous is happening with Sonia's brother Peter and a married woman, Nadia. Charming Peter has been in love with Nadia since he first saw her 18 years ago, but Nadia, thin and mysterious, wed (the soon to be wealthy) Jack, and Peter took as his wife Jack's plump, loud sister Zirka. But Sonia has her own problems without having to worry about her brother-she is grieving the death of her mother; she feels her husband is a stranger; and her teenage daughter Laura is in equal measure morose, bored and needy. The novel navigates equally between the complex world of the adults and the treacherous world of the community's children. As summer ends, a little bit of innocence is lost both for the women and children, as if somehow the corrosive effects of the Taylor-Burton scandal rippled all the way to the shores of their Canadian lake. The novel has a languid, sun-bleachedquality. The large cast of characters is broadly drawn and the plot is on slow simmer. The result is a book that mimics the kind of lazy summers that are filled with nothing much, but somehow create indelible impressions. Atmospheric writing that offers more than the sum of its parts.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061479076
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 1/6/2009
  • Pages: 368
  • Product dimensions: 5.32 (w) x 7.92 (h) x 0.79 (d)

Meet the Author

Janice Kulyk Keefer is widely acclaimed for her novels, short story collections, poetry, and nonfiction. The Ladies' Lending Library is her fifth novel. She lives in Toronto.

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Customer Reviews

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( 5 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 23, 2009

    Boring Me to Tears

    I first bought this book back in May, I believe. Due to me still having other novels to read, this one sat on my bookshelf for a good six months until I was done, and was capable of reading it. Even in the first few pages, I was already bored out of my mind. The plot wasn't clear, and the novel lacked potential. Though the writing was very well-done, the story still didn't make any sense to me. The mood is very dreary and depressing, and they change the subject from one thing to the other, which makes it even more confusing. I am still reading it, though I dread the thought of going back, and seeing the novel drag on, yet again. So, lately, I have put the book down for a while.

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  • Posted August 31, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Ugh...

    This book was beyond boring. The writing was not intriguing in the least, so what could have been made in to a decent novel was lost. The book was actually depressing as well and it lacked blantant interest and suspense. I didn't even finish the book because it was like walking through mud.

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  • Posted April 14, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Take a pass on this one

    Very dreary in mood, which reflects the main characters' state of mind, but makes it hard to care about them. Not an uplifting book. Leaves you wanting more.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 27, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews

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