The Dancing Master is the first book I have read by Julie Klassen. This story is not only intriguing and suspenseful, but it is also full of romance and God's love and grace. Set in Regency England, I found this to be an excellent book. If you like Jane Austen's settings, you will most definitely like Julie Klassen's books.
Written in a more modern American voice, the language flows well and is easy to understand. I really love the characters in this story. Everyone seems to have secrets they are trying to hide and the past comes back to haunt more than one person in the story. However, all will be revealed in due course. Will our characters be able to overcome their differences? Or will the past come between them and drive them apart for good?
I found Alec and Julia's story to be fun, a bit suspenseful, and romantic. While romance isn't as prevalent in this book, it is still there.
I borrowed The Dancing Master from my local library. I was not required to write a review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.
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.