Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Review of "The Dancing Master"

Rating: 4.5 Stars
~  ~  ~ 
Review:  Since the debut of her first novel, "Lady of Milkweed Manor," I eagerly await each new work by Julie Klassen.  Like the British settings and period dramas that she loves, each of her novels read like scenes from a Jane Austen movie or BBC film.  Her latest release, "The Dancing Master"  will not fail to disappoint readers.  Like the village of Candleford in the British drama "Lark Rise to Candleford," Beaworthy is a village filled with its own mixture of charms, beauty, sadness, and secrets.  Each member of the community has his or her own insecurities or prejudices that they must overcome. Lady Amelia Midwinter is the matriarch of Beaworthy and appears to be bitter and cold-hearted, while forbidding both dance lessons and public dances. The arrival of young and handsome Alec Valcourt, a dancing master from London, begins to unravel some of the fiercely held "laws" of the past twenty years.   Since dancing is not condoned within the village, Alec encounters his share of resistance and prejudice against his profession and his manhood.  The introduction of Alec Valcourt is a welcome distraction for Lady Amelia's flirtatious and reckless daughter, Julia, who feels dissatisfied and imprisoned by the limitations that her mother places upon her.  As each of their lives entwine,  it becomes evident that secrets and mysteries lurk just beneath the surface and each person cannot be defined by one's initial impressions. 

Julie Klassen has mastered the art of storytelling as she creates scenes that are rich in historical details and intriguing characters.  As a reader, I was captivated by the mysterious history of Beaworthy and the complexities of each of the main characters.  Lady Amelia, Alec, Julia, and other supporting characters each exhibit their own weaknesses and struggles.  Julia has a childlike innocence and vulnerability that mirrors her mother's, but only a buried past will allow each of them to flourish.  Alec is also haunted by his own recent past and a scandal that wishes to taint his potential happiness in Beaworthy.   The village is aptly named because worthiness, forgiveness, love, grace, and redemption are themes of the novel.   Just as one becomes frustrated and struggles to learn the steps of a minuet or English country dance,  the trials are worthwhile after each of the steps and dancers unite in perfect synchronization and harmony. Julie Klassen created a plot as graceful and as intricate as the dances she portrayed. The storyline played out with the nuances of a dance- the struggles, anticipation, mystery, climax, resolution and beauty.  

I received a complimentary copy of this book from LitFuse. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed above 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.

Summary from Bethany House Publishers: Finding himself the man of the family, London dancing master Alec Valcourt moves his mother and sister to remote Devonshire, hoping to start over. But he is stunned to learn the village matriarch has prohibited all dancing, for reasons buried deep in her past.

Alec finds an unlikely ally in the matriarch's daughter. Though he's initially wary of Julia Midwinter's reckless flirtation, he comes to realize her bold exterior disguises a vulnerable soul--and hidden sorrows of her own.

Julia is quickly attracted to the handsome dancing master--a man her mother would never approve of--but she cannot imagine why Mr. Valcourt would leave London, or why he evades questions about his past. With Alec's help, can Julia uncover old secrets and restore life to her somber village...and to her mother's tattered heart?

Filled with mystery and romance, The Dancing Master brings to life the intriguing profession of those who taught essential social graces for ladies and gentlemen hoping to make a "good match" in Regency England.

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About the author: Julie Klassen loves all things Jane---Jane Eyreand Jane Austen. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Julie worked in publishing for sixteen years and now writes full time. She is a three-time Christy Award winner and a 2010 Midwest Book Award winner for Genre Fiction. Julie and her husband have two sons and live in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota.

Learn more about Julie at:

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