Ian Colford’s Reviews > Like Any Other Monday

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Like Any Other Monday by Binnie Brennan

Read in May 2015

3 of 5 stars

In Binnie Brennan's first novel Like Any Other Monday it is 1916 and young Billy Pascoe has been forced by his father's alcoholism to quit The Three Pascoes, the successful stage act he shared with his parents all through his childhood. At an actors' colony where he's gone to take stock of his career, he meets the Hart sisters, Norma and Lucinda, whose own career as a song-and-dance team has ended because of Norma's pregnancy. Overcoming their doubts and fears, Billy and Lucinda partner up to become Pascoe and Hart, and with Norma's help devise a new act which they take out on the road. The bulk of the action takes place over the next three months, during which they travel from one vaudeville stage to the next, their act slowly building momentum, going from success to success until people are lining up to see them. Then the offers arrive, offers that will take them in different directions but propel their careers to new heights. The best scenes are the ones that show us the two young performers backstage and on stage, working together, calibrating their movements, refining their gestures, boosting each other's confidence, and in the process getting to know one another. Midway through their tour as Pascoe and Hart, the story of Billy and Lucinda becomes a gentle love story, though it remains intent on providing a glimpse into an important period in the history of the performing arts. In addition, the understated drama demonstrates that people in constant close contact with one another, whose fates are intimately connected moment by moment while performing in front of an audience, must learn to trust one another implicitly, or else fail. Making liberal use of details from Buster Keaton's early life story, Binnie Brennan has written a quietly impressive novel that evokes a time that most of us rarely think about.