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Ella Of All-of-a-Kind Family (2000)

Ella of All-of-a-Kind Family (2000)

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4.07 of 5 Votes: 2
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0929093054 (ISBN13: 9780929093055)
taylor productions ltd

About book Ella Of All-of-a-Kind Family (2000)

"At the Crossroads of her Young Life" In this continuation of the charmingly quaint Turn-of-the-Century NY family series the story focuses on young Ella, who is studying serious voice with Professor Calvano. We meet her fiancé, Jules, who has just returned from duty in WW. Of course her younger siblings also get into typical juvenile scrapes: irrepressible Henny takes a hair cut too far and later defies the all-male tradition by running for term representative—launching her own Women’s Lib movement. Young Charlie becomes seriously injured as a result of being dared by older boys to attempt a dangerous skill beyond his neighborhood borders. But it is Ella’s vocal career which presents the main dramatic conflict of this novella. A series of coincidences leads Ella to audition and be accepted for a new vaudeville turn called The Prancing Ponies--which requires weeks of hard work in rehearsals. There she deals with snobby and jealous chorus girls, plus the unwanted advances of a middle aged hoofer. Worst of all she feels a growing wedge between herself and her fiancé; once she goes on tour with the group they will be separated for at least a year. Is this the kind of singing career and lifestyle which she always wanted? Isn’t she supposed to be fulfilling Mama’s old dream—which she gave up to become a housewife? What about the close and loving Family Values her family has always demonstrated? How/when will Ella discover what she truly wants? A nice read for girls 12-16. (December 12, 2012. I welcome dialogue with teachers.)

The last in the All of a Kind series and somehow it was lacking a lot of the charm of the earlier volumes. The main focus was on eighteen year old Ella, the eldest and her decision to star in a vaudeville production in pursuit of a music career. To top it all off, Mama is expecting another child and while I realize that in that era it wasn't all that rare to have kids that were as much as eighteen years apart, I just felt it was a contrived plot device and since the book ended before Mama had the baby, I wonder, 'why bother?'

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Unfortunately I think this is my least favorite all of a kind family book. It is the last in the series. Ella must decide if she wants to marry Jules or go on the stage as a singer. And after singing in a charity concert, she gets a call form Broadway, and it looks like she will go on the stage. She actually meets with a Broadway manager and sings for him. He is delighted and wants her on the stage immediately. But there is one setback. She must spend one year performing in vaudeville, before she can come to Broadway. She gives it a lot of thought, and finally decides to go for it. Stage life is nothing like what she expected, and she is not quite sure what to think about it. Jules is very sad, because he wanted her to marry him, but now it looks like she is going on the stage. Ella and Jules drift further and further apart as her performances start, and she goes on tour. But finally Ella knows that she hates it, and wants to quit. And so in the end, she and Jules live happily ever after.

I was very excited to find this book, a sequel to "All-of-a-Kind-Family", one of my favorite childhood books. It continues in the spirit of its prequel, but is much shorter and less broad. The author does include some stories about Ella's siblings, but these pleasant little anecdotes almost seem to detract from the major storyline, which shows an interesting conflict between Ella's love of family life and her desire to pursue a career onstage. The tension between her two dreams: becoming a famous singer or getting married and having children is timeless and truly thought-provoking. Unfortunately for women everywhere, there is no easy way out of this quandary, so it is perhaps not entirely the fault of the author that the conclusion seems more like a compromise.

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