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Primetime TV Book Reviews


Serendipity book coverSerendipity: A Novel
by Louise Shaffer

(Note: Ms. Shaffer is a gifted TV actress and writer as well as novelist.)

Louise Shaffer’s fourth book is a beautiful work of fiction

By Laurie Flesch

I admit I’m a hard sell when it comes to a great piece of fiction.  I’m a continuous reader.  Some say I’m addicted to books.  I probably read more books in a month than most people do in a year.  Having never read a Louise Shaffer novel, I began my adventure with an open mind.  I was drawn into the story from the first paragraph.  As much as I wanted to devour the novel in one sitting, I savored it.

Serendipity is Louise Shaffer’s engaging story of four strong, complicated women and their struggles to find happiness and fulfillment.  The book centers on Carrie Manning, whose father was a famous Broadway musical writer.  Carrie’s grandmother was a Broadway star.  Carrie’s father died when she was very young and she never knew her grandmother.  Carrie knows nothing except her mother and grandmother had a falling out many years ago.  No matter how hard she tries, Carrie can never seem to devote herself fully to anything or anyone.  She just can’t seem to get her life on track.  Something is clearly missing from Carrie’s life.  Her quest to “find herself” takes place after the death of her mother.

The story begins 10 days after Carrie’s mother, Rose, passes away.  Carrie knows little of her famous father, Bobby Manning, and estranged her grandmother, Lu Lawson.  In fact, Carrie didn’t even know her own mother all that well.  Carrie works her way backward into Rose’s family’s history with the help of Rose’s brother, Paulie.  Through Paulie, Carrie learns about her mother (Rose), her grandmother (Lu), and her great grandmother (Mifalda).  She learns of their struggles and their relationships.  The struggles and experiences of those three women greatly influenced the woman Carrie has become.  When Carrie finally gathers the courage to meet her estranged grandmother, Lu, things finally fall into place.  Lu fills in the blanks for Carrie so she has a much better understanding of her parents.  By doing so, Lu gives Carrie the missing pieces to the puzzle she’s been trying to solve for years.  One of those puzzle pieces, a “secret” that only Lu knows, gives Carrie much insight into Rose.  With Lu’s help and encouragement, Carrie finds closure and is able to move forward with her life.   

A Yale School of Drama graduate, Louise Shaffer is an accomplished actress with many television and stage credits to her name.  She is best known for her portrayal of Rae Woodard on the daytime soap opera, “Ryan’s Hope.”  In 1983, Shaffer won a Daytime Emmy (“Outstanding Actress in a Supporting Role in a Daytime Drama Series”) for her role on “Ryan’s Hope.”  Shaffer also worked as a writer on “Ryan’s Hope,” “As the World Turns,” and “All My Children.”   

Serendipity is a wonderful book.  It’s full of strong women and colorful characters.  The story is emotional and relatable.  Louise Shaffer is a beautiful writer.  She paints a lovely picture for the reader to see, hear, and feel.  From beginning to end, this was the closest thing to perfect I’ve read in a very long time.  Serendipity was the first Louise Shaffer book I’ve read, but it certainly won’t be the last. 

For more on Louise Shaffer, including her three previous books (The Three Miss Margarets, The Ladies of Garrison Gardens, and Family Acts), visit her official

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Updated 9/15/09 


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