‘Lady Luck’ spills sumptuous secrets
HHow much do you know about the woman your mother was before you were born? Did she have a career or was she on her way to one? Was she passionately in love with someone and did he find her irresistible in return? Do you think you know everything there is to know about the woman who gave birth to you?If you think you do, I’ll bet you’re definitely wrong.Secrets between a mother and a daughter are at the heart of the new novel “Lady Luck’s Map of Vegas” by Barbara Samuel (c.2005, Ballantine Books), and it takes a road trip for those secrets to spill out.Just before India’s father died, he made her promise that she’d take care of her mother. It’s a promise India’s kept, but she’s regretted it. She once lived a carefree life in Denver with a high-tech job and a long-distance relationship with no strings attached, but now India lives in Colorado Springs because her mother, Eldora, can’t drive any more and someone needs to take care of her. It’s not that Eldora is an invalid; it’s that her shakiness comes from too much gin, and that worries India.Eldora is 63 years old, but looks barely 50. She’s long-legged, lovely, and she flirts shamelessly. Eldora was once a glamorous Las Vegas showgirl and she’s always been a man magnet, which irritates her daughter. Everyone male and female who sees Eldora is smitten with her, including India’s lover, Jack, who is about to become a father, although he doesn’t know it yet. India hasn’t told anyone, least of all Jack and certainly not her mother. There’s something else on India’s mind, something more important that needs to be dealt with first.India’s schizophrenic twin sister, Gypsy, is missing again. No one knows for certain where she is, but India feels sure that Gypsy is traveling the same route around New Mexico that the girls and Eldora took almost thirty years ago on an ill-fated vacation. Eldora wants to go find her daughter and India reluctantly agrees to drive, so they set out in Eldora’s 1957 Thunderbird on a desert road trip where secrets and lies have a way of driving you over the edge.Every now and then, I find a novel that unfolds so pleasantly, excruciatingly slow and is so easy to read that I devour it in one day. “Lady Luck’s Map of Vegas” is one of those books. Author Barbara Samuel doesn’t tell you everything you need to know about her characters, but rather, she gives you tiny peeks here and there, making you want more of the story. You know there’s something Eldora is withholding from India, and though you might have an inkling of what’s coming as she spins her tale, I doubt that you’ll be able to completely predict it all.Will you like “Lady Luck’s Map of Vegas”? I think it’s a good gamble that you will. VT
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