Despite its brevity, Amy Bloom’s new novel, Lucky Us, is ambitious and wide-ranging. The action takes place from 1939 to 1949, a decade that sees the USA’s involvement in the Second World War, the death of Franklin D Roosevelt and the deportation or internment of German, Japanese and other immigrants suspected of behaving in a manner prejudicial to American interests. The story moves between the fictional towns of Abingdon and Windsor in Ohio, seedy boarding houses and the MGM Studios in California, a beauty parlour in East Brooklyn, postwar London, and the German town of Pforzheim, whose inner city was almost razed to the ground during an RAF bombing raid in 1945. Bloom is a dab hand at period detail; even her chapter titles are selected from songs that were popular at the time. Making one’s own luck and the possibilities of self-transformation are the novel’s fruitful themes.
Bloom is a sharp, pithy writer, and the story begins with characteristic brio. ‘My father’s wife died. My mother said we should drive down to his place and see what might be in it for us.’ Twelve-year-old Eva has a part-time father, Edgar, who lives with his legal wife and