What a charming and cute novel. I really liked it, partly because it takes place in the 60’s and uses terms such as “Groovy” and “Good Grief”, while also mentioning classic oldies that I used to hear on the radio when I was young. What is really nice to see is the bond that becomes strong between Fin and his half-sister, Lady. It is, first and foremost, about the closeness between siblings and how they would do anything for each other. In this book, Lady becomes Fin’s guardian when he loses his mother at eleven years old. Their father (who was never really paternal to either of them) has long passed away, so now all they have is one another. Lady takes the responsibility, at twenty-four, to look after Fin and make sure his finances are all in order for when he becomes of age. But being so young herself and living in the era of psychedelic enlightenment, she feels unfit to be a proper guardian. At times it seems like the blind is leading the blind. She tries her best to steer Fin in the right path, enrolling him in a free-thinking school and dissuading him from taking drugs. In return, she asks that he help her find the right man to marry before she turns twenty-five. As the story unfolds, you are left wondering who is taking care of whom—but maybe that’s what the message of the novel is all about. At a certain point among siblings, no matter who is older, one will take care of the other (depending on the situation). There is certainly love and admiration between them and they want each other to be happy. Fin reminisces with fond affection about his older sister to a specific person in the book, which begs us to ask: who IS this person and why is Fin talking about Lady in only past tense? We find out the answer as we get closer to the end and though it is sad, it is also sweet. Many times I laughed out loud and I enjoyed reading about how Fin must tolerate all of Lady’s suitors and even go so far as to choose HIS favorite one. His life is never the same, once Lady enters it and it is clear through his recollections that he is grateful for the years he did spend with her. What did you think about the novel?
If you liked this novel, you may want to read other books by Cathleen Schine:
To read reviews on Fin & Lady, please click on the links below.
From The New York Times Sunday Book Review
From Star Tribune
For information about Cathleen Schine, click here.
Here are two questions to start off a discussion about the book:
-Do you think Lady was happy in New York?
-Do you think Fin & Lady has a happy ending?
For more questions, click here to access the Reading Group Guide.
I obviously knew about the Vietnam War that took place in the 60’s and Lady worries about whether Fin may become drafted when he is of age. In the story, there are protests of the war and men trying to avoid going into service (even one of Lady’s boyfriends finds a way out). What I wasn’t aware of was the fact that this war had the highest resistance to drafting in history, which almost crippled the Selective Service System. For more information about the evasion of drafting during this period, click here.
This book reminded me of …
As I was reading this, I could not think of any other titles. I guess the whole plot and time frame is different from the stories I have read so far. If anything, though, it has the same tone as a Miriam Toews or Heather O’Neill book.
Favorite quote from book:
“Fin was astonished. Lady, his wild, untamed Lady, who had been so open to the world when the world had seemed so closed—now, now that the world was shaking off the oppression of the straight and the uptight, now when the world was beautiful and free, now Lady, that most beautiful and free spirit, had closed herself off with a vicious snap.” (p. 165)
Most adorable moment in the story:
When Lady gets Fin Desert boots for his birthday but she confuses the size with his age. (p. 135)
Next month’s title:
The Quick by Lauren Owen