Dan Walsh's writing has been compared to Nicholas Sparks, and when I got The Dance after recently re-reading The Wedding by Sparks, I thought they would be similar, but other than the basic theme of restoration The Dance had a whole new dimension.
Book number one of the aptly sub-titled Restoration Series wisely reveals the fallout of an unhealthy marriage relationship and surface Christianity on every member of the family. Decades of missed-signals (Jim) and repressed frustration (Marilyn) are addressed after Marilyn initiates a separation and gets a job to support herself.
The incident that signaled the beginning of a one-sided power-based marriage, is the same tool that eventually brings the beginning of healing to the parents, and to their children.
Superficial spirituality is also addressed in the church relationships that Jim allowed to control business and family decisions and dynamics. Interestingly one of the children leads in pointing the parents in the right direction.
Gary Smalley's voice is evident in the advice of a godly widow who sympathizes with the couples' situation and gently encourages steps of reconciliation and restoration.
The Dance is an encouragement to examine our marital dynamics, each expressing the love they'd like to receive, while placing a higher value on commitment to one's spouse than to any other person or group of people.
I received a free copy of this book/Ebook/Product to review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. The opinions I have expressed are my own
Dan Walsh is such a talented writer, I've read all of his books and looked forward to this one with great anticipation. Being unfamiliar with Gary Smalley and not knowing how easy or difficult it is to co-write a book I wasn't quite sure what to expect but these two did not disappoint! This is a story that is being lived out in many couples marriages. Marilyn and Jim have been married for 27 years and after several years of Jim's first love being his work Marilyn decides to take a separation and moves to a nearby community leaving a note for Jim explaining why. He is shocked and doesn't understand, his first thought is to find her and bring her back.
God is at work though and puts other people in their paths to get His plan accomplished.
THE DANCE is an amazing story of restoration. A tale of how one hurtful thing can take root in your heart and fester until it consumes you, of how men and women see love and romance differently and how God can change heart's. Definitely a 5 star novel!
I received a copy of this book free from Revell Books in exchange for an honest review. Available April 2013
Marriage is a daily challenge that two people have to constantly work at to make it the most that it can be. When one person doesn't contribute, two people are unsatisfied and left wanting more. This is where you enter dangerous territory as Marilyn and Jim Anderson discover in The Dance.
The Anderson's have been married twenty seven years! That would be counted as a success by today's standards. But what really makes a marriage successful? Is it just the fact that two people stay married? That is no longer enough for Marilyn. She shocks Jim and everyone else in their lives when she walks out.
I struggled a bit as I read this. I would never encourage someone to leave their marriage but in this case, it seemed to be the rude awakening that Jim needed. He quickly discovers all that Marilyn does for him that goes unnoticed and unappreciated when he is left to do it himself. When asked why she left Marilyn's response was, because he doesn't dance. That sounds a bit strange doesn't it? But as with anything, there's always much more beneath the surface of a statement like that.
Marilyn decides if Jim isn't going to dance with her, she will dance alone. Will Jim come to his senses in time or does he find living alone preferable? Will Marilyn remain alone in her dance or will her suave dance instructor win her over?
I was interested to read this collaboration between Dan Walsh and Gary Smalley. I often wonder how two authors can come together and write a novel together but they did it with astonishing success and cohesiveness. There are two voices in this story that come together as one. Can Jim and Marilyn do the same? Will they remain separated or will they learn to dance together?
Walking through marriage alone is a lonely place to be. You will laugh and cry traveling this journey with them. You won't want to miss The Dance!
Marilyn had had enough. She and Jim had been married for twenty seven years. Painful years for her. But Jim didn't have a clue about her pain. He was too busy being an important man at church, the church he picked out because of the possible business contacts. He was too taken by his real estate holdings to take her in his arms.
So she left one day while Jim was at his office. She left him a note, letting him know she just needed some time. She tried to tell him how she felt. She wondered if he would even begin to understand. His heart was no longer with her or their children.
With Marilyn moving out, Jim slowing begins to face who he has become. It takes him a long time and it is not easy. Admitting you have mistreated those you are to love is hard.
The novel revolved around dance. Jim had refused to do the bride and groom dance at their wedding. Marilyn had been crushed. What had followed was a Christian home filled with legalism and harshness, including a couple whose hearts had drifted apart.
But throughout the novel we see that God has a plan to restore the couple, through dance.
Jim pays attention to his uncle's wise words. "Words don't do it for a woman whose heart's grown cold. _ You've gotta...live 'em."
OK, men, this is a novel for you! If there was ever a "romance" novel for Christian husbands to read, this is it. If you want a penetrating look into how you may be treating your wife and children, dare read this book. But have a tissue ready as you near the end. Men do cry, don't they?
On another level, it was a bit strange for me to read about dance in a Christian setting. When I was a teen, dancing was forbidden in our church and family. It was viewed as too tempting for young people. It was interesting to read of Marilyn's struggles with some temptation as she takes dancing lessons from a handsome Latin fellow. It was just a bit strange to have dance be such an integral part of a Christian couple's restoration. Old prejudices die hard.
The only aspect of this novel that was less than perfect was the tearful and quick ending. However, the story of Marilyn and Jim is not over. This is the first in a new series of books from Walsh and Smalley dealing with restoration. I look forward to the next in the series of the Jim and Marilyn Anderson family.
There are discussion questions at the end of this book so it would make a good choice for reading groups.
Also, just a note that many of the healing steps in this novel come from Smalley's book, The DNA of Relationships.
I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.
Usually, books written by two authors turn me off, but this one proved an unexpected treat! From the first page, I knew that this was going to be an memorable book. The storyline moves at just the right pace. The characters are so real that they seem like people I know.
Even though I knew where the plot was heading, I loved turning the pages to see just how we were going to get there. Read this one, folks! I'm looking forward to following this family in Book 2 in the series, <i>The Promise.</i>
Discussion Questions included.
Thank you to Donna Hausler at Baker Publishing Group and Revell for my copy.