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Poor Madeline

By Margaret Hicks in Arts & Entertainment on Sep 19, 2006 4:23PM

9_19_Hamilton.jpgJane Hamilton’s new book, “When Madeline Was Young,” begins with the unfortunate knowledge that there is no more waiting, the other shoe has definitely dropped.

Hamilton, a native of Oak Park, gives us the ill-fated story of Madeline. Shortly after her marriage to Aaron Maciver, Madeline has a bicycle accident and is brain-damaged. She is taken in and taken care of by Aaron and his new wife. Their children are led to believe that Madeline is their "older sister".

Hamilton was influenced by a performance she saw in Chicago of “The Light in the Piazza” (we can only assume she saw the production at the Goodman Theatre that went on to receive six Tony Awards). The musical, based on a novel by Elizabeth Spencer, follows Clara, a young girl who travels to Italy and falls in love with an Italian. Due to the language barrier, he doesn’t realize that Clara is mentally handicapped. Hamilton’s novel turns the story on its head, wondering what might have happened to Clara if she had her accident after going to Italy and falling in love.

We’re looking forward to reading Hamilton’s book. Two of her previous novels “Map of the World” and “The Book of Ruth” were Oprah's Book Club books (we can’t hold that against her), and we enjoyed “The Book of Ruth” as well. We’re pretty sure her new book will not disappoint.

You can see Jane Hamilton on Wed., 9/20 at 7:30 p.m. at Women & Children First, 5233 N. Clark; or Friday 9/22 at 7:30 p.m. at Barbara's Bookstore, 1100 Lake, Oak Park.