Felix Funicello, a cousin of the famous Annette Funicello, has just turned sixty. He teaches film studies at Hunter College and runs a weekly movie club showing classic films. The venue for the club is a former vaudeville theater. One evening as he was setting up the projector for that night’s show, Felix encounters the ghost of Lois Webster, a legendary female director in the twenties. Webster and several other ghosts will, through the magic of the movies, enable Felix to revisit the past. He will be able to relive important times as he and his sisters were growing up in a small town in Rhode Island.
Wally Lamb’s new book “I’ll Take You There” is about family, especially the female members of his family. Like all families, the Funicellos have secrets. As Felix returns to past times, he delves deeper into the secrets his family kept and how his sisters, Fran and Simone, and his parents were affected by all that was hidden. The reader travels through the fifties to present day. Along the way, we experience the pop culture, the politics, and the mores of each era.
Three generations of women are the focus of this story. The oldest generation just adapts to the times, the next fights against the injustices they face as women, and in the case of the youngest representative, Felix’s daughter, reaps the benefits of what her predecessors have fought for and gained.