In the press notes that came with the Family Acts (Ballantine, 321 pages, $24.95), there is an essay written by the novel's author, Louise Shaffer, titled "Why I Write."
"I think every book I pick up is a mini-vacation," Shaffer writes, "or at least has the potential to be one."
In Family Acts, we travel to New York, California, Georgia and a few scattered points in between ...
... as two women who live on opposite ends of the country are brought together by a mysterious inheritance.
Katie, the New Yorker, is a writer for a long-running soap opera that her actress mother made famous. Randa, from Los Angeles, is a business manager for folks in the entertainment industry, including a Lindsay Lohan wannabe, complete with a penchant for finding trouble.
The two women are lured to Massonville, Georgia, because they have jointly inherited a crumbling old opera House. Soon, with the research efforts of Randa's 11-year-old daughter, they realize they are somehow connected to the old place and to each other. Their first clue is that both women were named after Shakespearean characters — Katie after Katharina in "Taming of the Shrew," and Randa after Miranda in "The Tempest."
The book intercuts chapters dealing with the women's yearlong decision process of deciding what to do with the opera house with the history of previous owners of the theater.
Note: Author Louise Shaffer is an Emmy Award-winning actress who spent years working on the long-gone soap opera "Ryan's Hope." She has written two other novels, The Ladies of Garrison Gardens and The Three Miss Margarets. Readers of those first two novels will have fun figuring out their connection to Family Acts.