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I'll Take You There centers on Felix, a film scholar who runs a Monday night movie club in what was once a vaudeville theater. One evening, while setting up a film in the projectionist booth, he's confronted by the ghost of Lois Weber, a trailblazing motion picture director from Hollywood's silent film era. Lois invites Felix to revisit - and in some cases relive - scenes from his past as they are projected onto the cinema's big screen.
In these magical movies, the medium of film becomes the lens for Felix to reflect on the women who profoundly impacted his life. There's his daughter, Aliza, a Gen Y writer for New York Magazine who is trying to align her postmodern feminist beliefs with her lofty career ambitions; his sister, Frances, with whom he once shared a complicated bond of kindness and cruelty; and Verna, a fiery would-be contender for the 1951 Miss Rheingold competition, a beauty contest sponsored by a Brooklyn-based beer manufacturer that became a marketing phenomenon for two decades. At first unnerved by these ethereal apparitions, Felix comes to look forward to his encounters with Lois, who is later joined by the spirits of other celluloid muses.
Against the backdrop of a kaleidoscopic convergence of politics and pop culture, family secrets, and Hollywood iconography, Felix gains an enlightened understanding of the pressures and trials of the women closest to him and of the feminine ideals and feminist realities that all women of every era must face.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Paula on 11-29-16
Not Wally Lamb's Best -- Maybe His Worst?
I've liked every Wally Lamb book I've read until this one. It seemed like a paint-by-number diatribe on feminism and family issues from the 50's and 60's created for the YA audience. It just didn't strike a chord with me at all. Not like his prior books have done.
In brief: Felix Funicello (cousin to Annette Funicello) is a divorced father of a daughter professor at a local college who teaches about al things cinematic. He is a 60 year old Baby Boomer who relives bits and pieces of his life via film -- which was supposed to aggregate into a story.
It is hard to write a review without spoilers -- so perhaps I should stop there. . . but I must say that Lamb threw everything he could into this one; without focusing on anything in particular to create endearing characters or a story line that grabs mature readers. The feminism angle was just too basic -- nothing we haven't already figured out in the last 40 years.
As the book very quickly came to a close I couldn't believe that Lamb wasn't going to fill out at least some of the gaps and holes he had left in Felix's life story -- not to mention the huge omissions in the life of his daughter, sisters, mother and ex-wife.
Ultimately, maybe this was Lamb's quasi-fictional personal history/memoir. But he wasted a story with some pretty good potential. If only he had dug deeper.
9 of 9 people found this review helpful