3.78 (101 ratings by Goodreads)
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Mary Jacob grew up as an anomaly. A child of Louisiana in the early sixties, she found little in common with most of the people in her community and in her household, and her best friend was Lavina, the black woman who cooked and cleaned for her family. Now, in the early nineties, Mary Jacob has escaped her history and established a fresh, if imperfect, life for herself in New York. But when she learns of her father's critical illness, she needs to go back home. To a disapproving father and a spiteful sister. To a town decades out of alignment with Mary Jacob's new world. To the memories of Billy Ray, Lavina's son who grew up to be a musical legend whose star burned much too bright.
And to the echoes of a fateful day three decades earlier when three lives changed forever.
A generation-spanning story both intimate and enormous in scope, LAVINA is a novel rich in humanity, sharp in its indictments, and stunning in its resolution.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 358 pages
  • 152.4 x 228.6 x 35.56mm | 680.39g
  • Stamford, United States
  • English
  • 161188201X
  • 9781611882018

Review quote

"Marcus ("The New Me") has written a novel of weight and heart. Forthright in chronicling harrowing conditions of the era and Southern setting while not succumbing to stereotypes, she reveals the complexities of humanity and demonstrates a keen ear for the music of language in the individual voices of her characters. Lovers of "The Help" and civil rightsera literary fiction will enjoy this book."
Library Journal
"Thoughtful fiction that once again exposes the dark enigma of America's racist past and present."
- "Kirkus"
Marcus well-crafted, highly accessible novel can readily be compared to The Help, by Kathryn Stockett(2009), for its recognition of the lot of black domestic servants. However, there is one major difference, and that is the way Marcus writes about the creative impulse. Billy Ray s descriptions of his music making are both wondrous and joyful.
"Booklist "
""Lavina" is one of the best books I've read in a long time. Mary Marcus gives distinctive voice to three engaging characters, bringing our compassion and sympathy to each of them as she deftly unravels their complex story of heartache, courage, and love."
Diane Chamberlain, international bestselling author of "Necessary Lies"
""Lavina" is a richly nuanced journey to Louisiana during the civil rights era and contemporary times that encompasses the liberating but pain-filled emergence of R&B and rock and roll. Mary Marcus has a mystical insight into the agony and ecstasy of the creative process and the lives of performers. She also unflinchingly brings alive the insane disparity of lives of rich and poor, and black and white, and sees both the pain, the cruelty and also the love and richness of the South."
Danny Goldberg, author of "Bumping into Geniuses"
"Lavina" is a taut simmering and thoroughly southern work of art. Prepare to lose yourself in this thrilling novel, beautifully crafted by the awesomely talented Ms. Marcus.
Robert Tate Miller, author of "Forever Christmas"
Mary Marcus writes witty insightful novels that echo all the interesting places she's lived New York, Los Angeles, Shreveport, Louisiana. Her work reminds somehow of Joan Didion, Mary Karr and James Elroy. Don't ask me how.
Claudia Dreifus, author/journalist
"Mary Marcus' "Lavina" is a sprawling, passionate Southern Gothic nightmare which beautifully depicts the transformative power of musical creation. Billy Ray jumps from the page as a living, breathing embodiment of Louisiana's Black roots music."
Blake Leyh, Emmy Award-winning music supervisor of "The Wire" and "Treme"
The author certainly poured her heart and soul into this novel. I was drawn into the different narrative voices, but one of the most effective aspects of the book was the use of the vernacular you can hear the characters speaking just excellent!
And the Story Unfolds
Loved, loved everything about LAVINA by Mary Marcus beautifully crafted, from the stunning front cover, the well-developed characters, setting, plot, and remarkable storytelling.
Must Read Books
For anyone looking for a masterly written and beautiful packaged novel, I recommend LAVINA by Mary Marcus. It s a phenomenal read!
One of the most beautifully written books I've read.
Meanderings and Musings
Mary Marcus does an astounding job in reaching out to the reader, bringing them into the story as if the characters themselves were sitting beside us, telling us everything that happened, seemingly interrupting each other and filling in details. It's quite an amazing novel, simple as that.
The Coffee Pot
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About Mary Marcus

Mary Marcus was born and raised in Louisiana but left for New York after graduating from Tulane. She worked for many years in the advertising and fashion industries for Neiman Marcus, Vogue, Lancome, Faberge, and San Rio Toys, where she worked on the Hello Kitty brand. Marcus short fiction has appeared in "North Atlantic Review, Karamu, Fiction, Jewish Women s Literary Journal" and "The New Delta Review " among others. She lives in Los Angeles and the East End of Long Island. She is the author of one previous novel, "The New Me.""
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Rating details

101 ratings
3.78 out of 5 stars
5 27% (27)
4 38% (38)
3 25% (25)
2 9% (9)
1 2% (2)
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