Boardinghouse Stew.

Author:Stickney, Brandon
Position:Book review

E. E. Smith (author); BOARDINGHOUSE STEW; Phoenix Interntional (Fiction: General) $24.95 ISBN: 9780983561514

Byline: Brandon Stickney

Things were different back then. There was a war on, and everyone in the US was deeply involved, from rationing daily foodstuffs to -- if you were Japanese -- being forcefully uprooted from your home to a filthy "relocation center," where you and your family could be safely surveilled.

During the summer of 1943, eleven-year-old narrator Eileen Smith does her part for the war effort: cleaning, cooking, and gardening at Mrs. Mumson's deteriorating guest house. In the tradition of Capote and O'Neill, Boardinghouse Stew is Eileen's nonfiction novel, originally released in the 1980s as a headline-grabbing stage play of the same name.

Set in Sacramento, Boardinghouse Stew is a fast-paced comedic and dramatic frolic, examining the lives of seven divergent personalities and their highly individualized responses to the war and each other.

Widower Mrs. Mumson refuses to call her boardinghouse a "boardinghouse;" instead insisting that this "guest house" is a rest stop on the way to future success for cannery man Howard, med student and most eligible bachelor Doc, handsome mystery man Teddy, soldier wanna-be Iris, hipster supermodel Patsy, and wallflower Margaret. Little Eileen substitutes for the recently departed Yukie, a Japanese houseboy hauled away to one of California's concentration camps.

So what was so different in the Good Old Days? As Eileen innocently narrates, the men were gentlemen, except for Howard, who gets Margaret pregnant...

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