Sunday, 7 January 2018

Fin & Lady

Finished January 4
Fin & Lady by Cathleen Schine, read by Anne Twomey

This enchanting novel tells the story of young Fin Hadley and his older half-sister Lady. As the book begins Fin is eleven years old and has just lost his mother to cancer. He has already lost his father and both his maternal grandparents. Now Lady comes into his life as his guardian and companion. Fin had met Lady when he was five, after their father had taken Fin and his mother Lydia on a trip to Europe to hunt down the elusive Lady. They had finally found her on Capri, and Fin was enchanted by her at the time, and on the boat trip back to the U.S.
Now Fin and his collie dog Gus go to New York City with Lady to live. At first they live in her late mother's apartment which is well-managed by the black housekeeper Mabel. Mabel is the grounding influence in the home, especially when they move to a newly renovated brownstone in Greenwich Village.
Fin discovers that Lady is well-meaning, but not necessarily dependable in an everyday way. She is a bit of a misfit and a rebel, even for the early '60s when this story begins. Fin soon discovers that he has another guardian, a financial one, represented by the young Tyler, a lawyer for Fin and Lady's father's law firm. He manages Fin's inheritance including the farm and cows that were his grandparents'. Tyler also has a history with Lady that Fin doesn't learn of right away. What he does learn is that Lady has the ability to enchant, and not just Fin. Lady seems to draw people to her, and she has many suitors. In a moment of togetherness, Lady assigns Fin the job of finding her a husband among these many, and set a deadline a year away.
We soon see there are three men who seem closer to success in terms of suitors, and Lady seems to rotate from one to another as time goes on. They are Tyler, the long-term suitor; Jack, the younger man, a sportsman who gets off to a bad start with Fin; and Biffy, a Hungarian emigrant and World War II survivor. Biffy is the favourite of Fin, and we even get to meet his eccentric mother, who is a darling.
As the years go by, and the deadline for Fin's task gets moved further out, he finds a life in the city. He befriends an older girl Phoebe, who lives across the street; attends a non-traditional school; explores museums, galleries, parks, and becomes a baseball fan of the Mets. During these years, Lady lives a life in limbo, not really advancing, just treading water. It is a pleasant life, but Fin can see that Lady isn't truly happy.
When, in a moment he regrets, Fin tells her what he truly thinks, Lady sets off on a new adventure. She ends up in Capri again, and the story changes. Lady changes, and Fin sees how. When even more change begins to come into their lives, Fin knows that he needs help, and his true friends come through.
This is a story of two siblings, who become friends. A fairy-tale type story with an ending both unexpected and inevitable. I loved it.

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