Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Review of "Fin & Lady" by Cathleen Schine

In the early 1960s, beautiful twenty-four-year-old Lady Hadley swoops in to take over the care of her half-brother Fin Hadley when he's orphaned at eleven. Lady is a free spirit - able to travel, maintain a luxurious home, and indulge in favorite political causes - due to a generous trust fund.

Lady and Fin soon move to Greenwich Village where Fin is enrolled in an 'alternative' school that favors lots of freedom and little homework. Fin is also exposed to Lady's rather eccentric lifestyle, which includes several boyfriends, whimsical activities, and plenty of drinking and partying. Fin also becomes an advocate of Lady's political views. This is the era of the Viet Nam War and of the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, and Martin Luther King. President Johnson is unpopular with anti-war activists and there's plenty to protest about. Thus, Fin accompanies Lady to rallies and marches, and even manages to get taken into police custody. Fin is devoted to Lady and considers all this great fun.

One thing Fin isn't please about is Lady's request that he help her find a husband since he doesn't like most of her beaus. Lady insists she needs to marry by twenty-five but is perfectly happy to give herself extensions as needed. Lacy's looking for someone to love but can't seem to find him.

The book doesn't really have a plot as such. Instead it's a character study of Lady, Fin, their black housekeeper Mabel, and their friends. Mabel is the loving motherly figure who takes care of Fin when his sister flakes out. Lady has two former roommates who enjoy suggestive chit-chat and she has three boyfriends who are very different from each other: a lawyer, a jock, and a Hungarian refugee. Fin makes friends with kids on the block and at school and roams the city with them. The closest relationship in the story, though, is between Lady and Fin - who have a tight, loving bond. Lady's whims eventually result in a lovely summer on the island of Capri in Italy, which sets up a big change in everyone's life.

I thought the book was slow and plodding in places, which lessened my enjoyment of the story. Overall it was an okay book with some interesting characters.

Rating: 3 stars

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