The Valcourt family has had to flee London in the wake of a tremendous scandal. With nowhere else to go, Alec Valcourt brings his mother and sister, Aurora, to the small village of Beaworthy to live with their Uncle Ramsey. Alec is a dancing and fencing master, like his father and grandfather before him, but only after they arrive does Alec then discovers that dancing has been banned by the local village matriarch.
Ok, I know I'm going to be in the minority here, but I have to say, in my opinion, this is not Julie Klassen's best work.
There were several things in this book that I had problems and the two main characters being the biggest of them. Alex Valcourt just wasn't any kind of hero. With no money and needing to support his sister and mother, he refuses to do any work that will get his hands dirty. He insists that the only way he will earn any money is teaching dancing and fencing. For lack of a better tem, this guy needed to "man up" and do what was necessary to feed his family. By refusing to do anything except what he wanted to do, made him come across as selfish and cold.
Julie Midwinter, the village matriarch's daughter, entered onto the scene as a spoiled rebellious girl with little respect for anyone and unfortunately she stays that way throughout most of the book. Oh there was a bit of a change in her by the end, but I'm sorry to say by then it was just too late for me.
I do have to say that the only character that really caught my interest was the blacksmith's son. For spoiler reasons, I won't name him, but I thought he was fascinating. I wish he had had a bigger part in the overall story.
The story itself was interesting. There was wonderful detail in the description of the characters and giving us an overall picture of the village and surrounding landscape, but I would have like have seen the plot move faster. It seemed to plod and drag in to many places and there didn't seem to be too much that caught my attention enough to keep reading. In fact I was able to put the book down several times to read other things and I had a hard to picking it back up again.
There was one thing that I kept questioning in the story. Although dancing was forbidden, fencing was not, yet Alec insisted that it be a fencing and dancing school. So why not just teach fencing? To me it seemed a logical solution to Alec problems.
At the end of day, this book is not for everyone. Some will love it, others will like it, but to be honest, this particular book just really isn't my cup of tea and after reading the back cover if this was written by any other author but Julie Klassen, I would have passed it up.
I have never read a book by Julie Klassen, but I enjoyed this first read. I found the history of dancing to be quite interesting and felt that Klassen did an excellent job researching and detailing each step of each dance. I am sure that was not easy to detail, and I appreciated her attempt to make the dances come alive.
I think it was probably a typical Christian romance novel, but it did seem like there were more possible connections than simply Alec and Julia. In many novels, it seems like there are a lack of potential suitors or interesting women. I appreciated the author creating more appealing characters.
I was a little disappointed in the abrupt ending, though. It seemed as though the author just got tired of writing and decided to wrap up the story in a neat package. I would have liked to see a little more development of the ending.
Overall, I felt like this was a decent read, and I look forward to reading some more of this author's work.
*This book was provided to me by Bethany House in exchange for my honest opinion.
This was one of those books that had me from the start. I seriously couldn't put it down, and kept going till I had finished all 419 pages! (It's a long book, but it's seriously THAT good!)
The story is about a dancing master, Alec Valcourt, who moved from London to Devonshire with his mother and sister to "start over". Problem is that the town he moved to had prohibited all dancing because of the town matriarch, Lady Amelia Midwinter. That was definitely not a good day for him, when he learned about the prohibition! Fortunately for Alec, the feeling doesn't run in the family, and he finds both a friend and a somewhat unlikely ally in Lady Midwinter's daughter, Julia (who enjoys things that are daring and against the way her mother wants them to be!). Together, they build a friendship, and change a lot about the ways things are done in their community. Not just the "rules" everyone observes, but the relationships people have with each other too.
The book is filled with unexpected things, unlikely friendships, and connections that you never saw coming, but the ending was somewhat predictable. While the ending may have been expected, the way they got there definitely wasn't. I appreciated that the book wasn't just a work of fiction that could be considered "mindless reading", but it really, really made you think. It wasn't just about dancing, rules, and traditions_ it also included two different stories of redemption, and they were beautifully written.
Completely not related to anything in the book, but related to the cover - the back cover gives the normal description of the story, and underneath that, it gives praise for the book. That may sound normal, but what struck me as strange was how the praise wasn't for this book - it was for another one of the author's books. I actually thought I might be going crazy as I read that, so I pulled a few books off my bookshelf to make sure, but I was right - books do typically have praise for that book_ not another one. I'm not sure if the praise is for this book and just lists the wrong book, but it does fit. Still, I thought that was strange.
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review. All the thoughts and opinions expressed here are completely my own.
Julia Midwinter's youth and vitality often stand in opposition to her mother's rules. As village matriarch, Julia's mother has prohibited all forms of dancing. This seemingly harsh rule is shrouded in family secrets, including the deaths of Julia's aunt and uncle. By natural curiosity and rebellion, Julia is drawn to Alec Valcourt, the newly arrived dancing master from London. However, Alec's past also proves dark and messy and he's certainly not the type of man Julia's mother would approve of. Will Alec and Julia both discover the truths about their pasts so that they can embrace the future with hope? Read more in The Dancing Master by Julie Klassen.
The Dancing Master by Julie Klassen is a stand-alone novel set in early nineteenth century England. The mystery of Julia's past hooked my attention and kept me wondering how all the people and events fit together. For me, this is what kept the story flowing as I didn't find the characters as captivating as I expected. By the author's intention, I suspect, Julia's character was hard to like in the beginning. However, even after Julia's internal motivations became more clear and she began to develop as a character, I still found it difficult to like her. Lastly, someone mentioned to me that it sounds like a take-off of Footloose. However, I've never seen the movie, so I can't really speak that. I don't discourage anyone from reading the book, but I do recommend borrowing from the library before purchasing.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."