From now on, whenever I hear the phrase "the power of story," The Dance by Dan Walsh and Gary Smalley is one book that will quickly come to mind. The narrative takes real-life issues that many of us face - lack of communication, the drive to get ahead, acceptance by peers, financial insecurity - and meets them head on in a story with relationship advice seamlessly blended into a storyline that simply entertains. The Dance, book on in The Restoration Series, is a character-driven novel, written in an easy-to-read style that captured and held my attention from the very first page.
On his blog, Dan says this about The Restoration Series: "Weve written the series hoping to reach thousands of Christians who may be struggling or coming up short of their expectations for a truly happy home." While the focus is on the marriage of Jim and Marilyn Anderson, I think the relational gems in this book would help strengthen any relationship. The novels are mostly set in the fictitious town of River Oaks, Florida, which is inspired by a real-life, storybook-like town of Celebration near Disneyworld. Be sure to visit Dan's Restoration Series Pinterest to get a glimpse of this charming town.
The Dance is a book that beautifully weaves Dan Walsh's literary talent with Gary Smalley's relationship expertise, and entertaining fiction with educational truths. I would have thought this blending of styles and message would be somewhat difficult to achieve, but they made it look effortless. Jim and Marilyn are sympathetic characters that I could easily relate to, and strong supporting characters added richness to the story. I especially enjoyed dance instructor Audrey and Jim's Uncle Henry, the hippie who'd found Jesus after almost dying of a drug overdose at Woodstock.
Everything had to revolve around Jim, who had spent years crafting his reputation, and Marilyn avoided confrontation. But while Jim initially attributed their separation to Marilyn's selfishness, it quickly became an eye-opening experience. And I thought the church they attended almost became a major character, for I have known of churches like that - status driven, prestigious, legalistic. In Jim's thoughts, he "was a pariah now, inside that building. A man fallen from grace. If not from God, certainly from men. . . . One never rises once fallen from grace. Not in this church."
The Dance is a story of hope, prayer, forgiveness, restoration, and new beginnings. The beauty of Christianity is God restoring us relationally to Him, and we see another kind of restoration in this story - the marriage relationship - that reflects Christ's relationship with us, His church. The Dance is an example of the power of fiction to transform lives and I highly recommend it.
Thank you to Revell for providing a copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
A marriage is in troubleâ€”except Jim Anderson is ignorant of the problems driving his wife, Marilyn, away. Jim has gauged his success in life by his thriving business and showplace home. After twenty-seven years together, Marilyn decides she needs to escape, at least for a while. She confides in their daughter, who is away at college, but doesn't let Jim know where she moves to sort out her life. Marilyn steps out to do some things she has not been allowed to pursue: a job and dance lessons.
Surprised and angry at his wife's disappearance, Jim is forced to take stock of his own life and learn to reconnect with Marilyn and their children. He finds an unlikely mentor, who teaches him how to truly relate to those he loves. The metaphor of dancing and living is woven throughout the novel, offering wise advice we all could heed.
Jim and Marilyn Anderson have lived in a relatively one-sided marriage since the day they wed and Jim refused to dance with Marilyn, both disappointing and embarrassing her. Jim's refusal to dance with her began a 27-year relationship based on Jim's priorities and demands with little regard for Marilyn's needs and desires. She was merely of a trophy wife, beautiful, the perfect hostess, and dutifully playing the role of a submissive wife. Extremely unhappy, Marilyn quietly leaves Jim in a search for peace and purpose. Jim's reaction to discovering that Marilyn has left him only results in escalating anger. His stress level is already out of control as a result of his struggling business. Both Christians, Jim can't believe that Marilyn would leave him, nor could he understand why.
As Marilyn attempts to work through her anger and unhappiness, she enrolls in a dance class. The freedom she feels as she learns to dance takes away some of the stress of her unfulfilled life. Jim is approached by Audrey, the former owner of the dance studio, and she convinces him to take private lessons from her. Her lessons run far deeper than just the basic dance steps. Audrey begins to open Jim's heart to his failings as a husband. As she weaves these lessons of a successful and happy, Christ-centered relationship with her lessons in dance Jim's fears and inability express himself are revealed. As she shows him these steps he begins to break down and discover the pain that he caused his wife and children, but wonders if he can overcome the damage that has already resulted.
This poignant fictional story of a struggling relationship is blended with examples for finding healing. Dan Walsh and Gary Smalley have woven a tapestry of fiction and Christian instruction in making a weak marriage strong through the lives of Jim and Marilyn and the blunders of a disrespectful husband. Though Marilyn's character is portrayed in relative innocence regarding the failing marriage, the focus on Jim's lack of respect and concern for his wife is pivotal in revealing the ravages of a selfish nature, lack of respect, fear of failure and subsequent embarrassment. This book is both heartwrenching and heartwarming as these characters seek forgiveness and mercy in an attempt to find their way to a fulfilling relationship. Fortunately I have the second book in the series, and upon finishing The Dance, immediately began to read it. I'm looking forward to discovering the future for Jim and Marilyn's marriage and their relationships with their grown children.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Revell in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own, and no monetary compensation was received as a result of this review.
Dan's book, The Dance, is a powerful story of marital love and romance, with the interlude of a pending divorce. With the wonderful writing intricacies that are well-known by Dan Walsh and the additions of Gary Smalley, you get a worthwhile story of reconciling a difficult situation. And you will learn some wonderful insights into your own marriage relationship or how to work on issues before you get married.
I was totally overwhelmed with the delicate emotions, difficult decisions, and ultimate surprises by the end of the story. This is another of my favorites from Dan Walsh. He's a writer you should not miss!
This book was received free in exchange for my honest opinion form Donna Hausler at Baker Publishing Group. No monetary compensation was received.
WOW!!! and I really mean WOW!! This is no fairy tale little story that translates into a few mistakes from the man and a little fuss from the woman, some insistence from the same man, some magical kiss and BANG- happily ever after!!! This is a hard-core relationship explanation. I felt like I was told a true story of a friend that went above and beyond marriage counseling.
I love this book and plan not just to recommend it to my facebook and goodreads friends but to all couples that struggle in their marriage. Now, don't get me wrong, it is a lovely romance but in between, the advises given by Audrey and the personal transformation in Jim, the effect it had on his children, it was really deep. And the balance of the whole story line there aren't too many extremes, authors didn't go overboard with it- that made it very realistic. In fact I was so taken with it that I went online and researched the authors. So let me tell you, "listen" to all the details carefully because it is written by a pastor and a family counselor.
I loved the explanation of The Fear Dance. how many wrong "steps" are we making in the Dance of our marriage because of the fear?? And how does our partner respond to them?? It is true there is no losers. Marilyn did get rid of Jim by leaving him and yes she did make a loser of him in many people's eyes, but really was she a winner in it?? Absolutely not!!! she was free but not happy. Marriage is a dance for two and whether you lose and win you do it together...
One particular thing was a splash of cold water for me. And it is when Audrey tells him that we all believe in fairy tale -- that if we just meet that one special person all our problems will go away! What I have learned is that is not true; and when we realize it, we leave that person in search of another one to make it all better only to run the same circle again! So dear women, don't leave your men in search of another, do your best to dance happily with the one God already gave you. There is no one better.
I want to really thank both authors for making such a perfect mix between a romance novel and family counseling, I know it got me thinking and I am sure will touch others too.
Disclaimer: I got a free copy of this book from Baker Publishing through NetGalley, in exchange for my honest opinion!!