Fin & Lady by Cathleen Schine

F

I listened to this book having recently read K√ľnstlers in Paradise that I liked so much. This one was about an interesting family dynamic. I will be restrained about plot revelations because those revelations were my favorite part of the book.

Fin was so-named because after his birth, his father wandered into a theatre showing a French film that was just ending. He was clear that this son would be his last child. He had an older daughter by a previous marriage named Lady who despised him. Lady had taken off for Europe as a teenager and was to be married there. The father, his second wife Lydia, and five-year-old Fin went to deal with the problem that came up when she left her fiancé at the alter. Fin remembers how beautiful Lady was when he saw her that first time in Capri.

After his father died, Fin and his mother lived on her family’s dairy farm until his mother’s death when he was eleven. Only Lady, now 20-something and living on her own in New York City was available to care for Fin. Because these folks were so rich that money was never an issue, Fin could be competently cared for and their lives sounded fun and entertaining. Lady asked Fin to find her a husband, and he had his favorite among the three suitors who showed up regularly. The backdrop of living in Greenwich Village in the late 60s is present, but not the most evocative part of the book.

After Fin had been with her for four years, Lady disappeared from their lives. For some months the suitors almost moved into the house, until Lady sent for Fin to make his way to Capri. He found that Lady was now a happy person because she had finally fallen in love. Michelangelo was a photographer who left for occasional shoots.

At some point the author telling Fin’s story begins to drop in phrases that let you know Fin is telling this story of his life to someone else. It is the identity of that person that I will not reveal. I will just say that the rest of the story is sad but satisfying.

Cathleen Schine, Fin & Lady, Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux, 2013, 273 pages (I listened to the audiobook). Available in the public library.

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