Telling Sonny by Elizabeth Gauffreau is a poignant, bittersweet, and powerful novel of love, loss, and an exploration of both New England and the vaudeville circuit in the first half of the 20th Century. She shows the reader a world that few have known personally and of which few are aware, and she draws the reader into that world seemingly effortlessly.
Gauffreau skillfully tells the story of Faby Gauthier and her life in Vermont both during and after she met, was seduced, and married a dancer named Slim White on stage and Louis Kittell in his real life. Sonny is a selfish man who uses his sophistication to take Faby’s virginity and impregnate her. At this time, for a girl with a child on the way, this was a difficult situation. Gauffreau handles the story beautifully. It is neither overly sentimental nor it is maudlin. Gauffreau weaves her story and tells us the lives of people and how they survive.
Gauffreau, through excellent dialogue and description, creates this past world and in an historical and literary novel, pulls the reader into the tale and makes us care about Gaby and her son.
Gaby is faced with having to tell her grown son who is waiting for his wedding that his father, who abandoned them is now dead from a car accident. Gauffreau adds this layer of tension to this novel and does it quietly and with precision and care.
This is a tale of quiet strength and desperation, of love and abandonment, and of death and life. It is a novel of family, of connection, and ultimately of love.