2009, 199 pages
Set in the industrial New England town of Lowell, Massachusetts, Mrs. Somebody Somebody tells 10 intertwined stories of its residents, from post-World War II to the present.
When I picked up this book, something about the writing immediately drew me in, and I really enjoyed the first story, Mrs. Somebody Somebody, from which the novel takes its title. Although it was by far the longest story in the book, I was really interested in the story of Stella, a mill worker who dreams of someday becoming Mrs. Somebody Somebody and owning her own salon. Stella is drawn into the middle of the mill's struggles over unionization and provides a revealing window through which to view the struggle. Winn's writing is interesting and enjoyable, and was the highlight of this book for me.
Mrs. Somebody Somebody was exactly who I wanted to be. The way some kids grow up knowing they want to be mayor, want to have their name in the book of history, I wanted to wear a white dress and a ring that said I was taken care of. It was all mixed up with my hankering to live better, to have pretty things, to be glamorous. I wanted that Mrs. title like it was what I was born for--a want that settles into you when you are very young and grows as you grow. (p17)Unfortunately, none of the subsequent stories drew me in as much as the first one. I liked some more than others, but overall the concept of short stories connected by the same location ultimately failed to really come together for me in this book. Part of me feels like maybe I didn't pay enough attention after the first story to really grasp the stories' overall connection, but overall I just have lukewarm feelings toward this book.
How a quarry cutter's daughter gets screwball ideas could be a whole other story. The happy accident--how my nose and eyes landed in a nice arrangement, how my lips came to be a fashionable shape--had a lot to do with it. People have always been pleased to look at my face and figure. Anywhere I'd gotten, I'd gotten because of my looks. But being a looker can make you think you might be something special. Let me tell you, you're not. You may have the finest eyes in the world, long dark lashes, lovely shape and color, but it's what those eyes see that counts. Mine were blind, blind.I received this book for review from LibraryThing.
Glamour and LOOK magazine showed me better ways to live. I loved those glossy pages of beautiful women, all those brides who looked like they knew the secrets I would learn. I never doubted that I could be one of them. Not for a second. Those days the world was my mirror. Nothing but shiny surfaces to give me back myself. Wherever I looked, there I was. (p9)