Former professional ballroom dancer, Angelica, is returning to her home town of Longhampton after decades spent away. With dance having formed such a large part of her life, she's the obvious candidate to teach a ballroom class for beginners at the local town hall.
Her class is attended by various couples, with a few of them becoming main characters. Katie and Ross are having marital problems and hope that lessons will help to bring them closer together. Lauren and Chris are planning their wedding and come to the class to learn to dance in preparation for their first dance at the reception. Bridget and Frank are Lauren's parents.
Katie works long hours in a male-dominated planning office, while husband Ross stays at home with their children. Katie's work set-up is putting a lot of strain on their marriage and there is a huge amount of tension between these two characters. While I did come to understand Katie's behaviour, there were times that she did start to get on my nerves with her attitude towards Ross. On the whole though, I was rooting for them to be able to overcome their problems.
Lauren is planning her dream wedding but it's quickly turning into a financial disaster. On the whole, I really liked this character, although I did find some of her wedding plans to be a tad ridiculous and OTT, especially given how expensive some of it was. She is a character whose heart is definitely in the right place though. I found it quite hard to get a decent handle on Chris' character as we mostly seem him on the sidelines and through Lauren's eyes.
Bridget is counting the stress of Lauren's wedding and at times, I felt really sorry for this character. She is determined to give her daughter the wedding of her dreams, whatever the cost.
Angelica is not actually a central character for large parts of the book, although her back story does develop as the plot goes on and there are some secrets lurking beneath the surface. I found her to be quite an intriguing character and a great addition to both the classes and the plot itself.
The characters form a good camaraderie during the course of the book, which is lovely to see.
Absolutely! I really enjoyed reading about the various characters efforts to dance during the classes, as well as the back stories that had led them to come to classes in the first place. I didn't dislike any of the characters and was quite endeared to some of them. There are a good mix of characters with quite a bit of depth to some of them. On the whole, it's an easy read.
Angelica loves to dance, so when she returns home to Longhampton, she decides she will teach a ballroom dancing class at the local dance hall. As a former World Class dancer, Angelica is sure she can turn the town's residents into the next Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. But are her class up for the challenge? And are all they all dancing to the same tune, or entirely different ones?
Lauren and Chris, engaged to be married, are finding preparing for their wedding harder than they thought. Lauren wants a fairytale, but Chris just wants it over with. Lauren's parents Bridget and Frank are very happily married and proud of their daughter, but Bridget is hiding a secret which is eating her up inside. Finally, Katie and Ross have marital woes, Katie resents going out to work while Ross gets all day with their two children, Hannah and Joe. Can the music bring all the couples closer together and heal the rifts, or is it too late for them all?
As a fan of dancing shows such as Strictly Come Dancing, the recommendation on the front and inside few pages from Arlene Phillips, judge of Strictly, pleased me and made me think that this would definitely be one for those of us who love to watch dancing shows. I found Dillon has written a book here with a great insight into the world of dance, although perhaps not as much as would be suggested by the title and cover of the book. I would have liked to have a lot more about Angelica's life as a dancer, and the short parts where the book flashes back to this time are too few and far between for me!
The dancing which occurs in the book is good, but isn't anything overly special. She does use a bit of technical language, but for those of us who don't understand it, don't worry as it is explained. Because of the characters, most of the dancing is very simple and you almost learn the dances along with them which I think made it a fun read. It did make me want to jump up off my seat and do a little box-step for myself a few times, but I managed to restrain myself! The great description of the dance nights held at the hall, the costumes and music did bring it all to life in a wonderful way, and I so much wanted to be there with them.
Dillon's characters are all well-written, and you can see feel compassion for all of them, despite their individual circumstances. I found myself caring for all of them, and wanting them to all work it out and be happy! I particularly felt for Katie who was struggling as a working mum, and I can only imagine how hard it was for her to leave her children. The relationship between her and Ross was so well written, you do feel like a fly on the wall in their home, which shows how good Dillon's writing is! The other characters were just as enjoyable, with Lauren and Chris' mad wedding plans coming to life and Bridget's inner turmoil affecting all parts of her life. Of course, I can't not mention Angelica, the dance teacher, and her story is an intriguing one! Her story gets revealed as the book goes on, and this little mystery is enough to keep you reading up until the end! Brilliantly done by Dillon.
This is a novel that really gets to grips with human relationships, their ups and downs, but of course love that will get you through anything, as long as that love is there. As well as the woes, there are plenty of laughs courtesy of Lauren and mother-in-law Irene's elaborate wedding plans, and these two never failed to make me smile! The dancing element really served to bring all of the characters together in one place, and to develop the individual storylines, and I loved the dancing scenes. They were so well written, you could clearly visualise that big old Glitterball on the hall ceiling, and the swishy dresses they wore for the classes! A really wonderful piece of escapist reading, a definite much for not just fans of dance, but also for those who love a fantastic read! For a debut novel, this is superb, and I do hope Lucy Dillon continues to write brilliant books.
ISBN: 978-0340933954. Published by Hodder in October 2008. The paperback is available on Amazon for £6.49.
This review has previously appeared on www.thebookbag.co.uk.
Thank you for reading!
Browsing Waterstones the other weekend I was after a particular book that I had read about on here and then something else a bit light hearted. I suddenly spotted a book that was covered in glitter entitled "The Ballroom Class" The title alone, along with the couple mid dance on the front was enough to make me buy it!
The story & Characters
We are introduced to several people during the beginning chapters. Firstly, there is Angelica, she is a professional dancer returning to her hometown of Longhampton and is teaching dance at the local Memorial Centre. We are told very little about Angelica to begin with - only that she is still very beautiful and extremely graceful at nearly 60. There is some mystery surrounding her and slowly this is revealed throughout the book. As well as this, she is teaching some very different couples the art of ballroom and Latin dance - how will she succeed?
**LAUREN & CHRIS**
Young 22 year old Lauren, recently engaged to her childhood sweetheart Chris, wants to have the big fairytale wedding - complete with Cinderella dress and fancy first dance. Lauren enlists her fiancé and herself in dance classes with Angelica. Lauren's skinny tall and awkward body is transformed on the dance floor but Chris is struggling - and not just with his dance moves. The pressure on them is mounting and we see how they cope.
**BRIDGET & FRANK**
Lauren's doting parents, still happily married after many years, they go to the classes with Lauren and Chris and this brings back wonderful memories for them - they met on the dance floor and they don't particularly need the classes! Bridget is hiding a secret though from Frank - the first she has ever hidden from him - it is threatening to ruin their lives as well as Lauren's wedding.
**KATIE & ROSS**
Katie and Ross are at the class due to their relationship counselling. They enrol in the classes as a chance to do something together - Ross is a stay at home dad to their two children whilst Katie works full time. Their role reversal has put immense strain on the couple - Katie resenting the time that Ross gets to spend with the children whilst she has to work full time. Her feelings are changing and she is desperate to get them back on track...will the music work its magic?
This was fairly slow going at first -the usual set up of characters didn't really excite me too much but by half way through I was rooting for the characters! I found Katie and Ross' characters the most interesting, and therefore looked forward to the chapters where their story was told. At first, I found Katie annoying - she came in from work late and immediately launches in to a moan about the state of the house and how Ross doesn't do anything all day - so why can't he clean up? Ross, always nice and loving, is exhausted from caring for their two children who are under the age of 5 and tries very hard to make Katie happy. I at first found her selfish and a bit clueless really, but I loved the role reversal and also the development of her character. By the middle of the book, she begins to understand (by the help of her friend Jo's marital problems) that Ross is a good and caring man and is doing a great job. It was interesting to read about how she felt Ross was emasculated due to him giving up his work and how she didn't find him attractive anymore. It contrasted perfectly with their friends Jo's marriage and Katie's struggle is heart wrenching towards the end.
I also loved the relationship between Frank and Bridget. Bridget is the typical mum and wanting everything for her only daughter. The relationship between frank and Bridget is fantastic and came across so well in the book - I can only hope that I am in love as much as that in years to come! I personally found Bridget's struggle with money for her daughter's wedding both frustrating and touching. I completely understood the emotion conveyed about her panic with credit cards and this was done perfectly, how sick she felt, the need to hide the bills etc. I found it touching that she wanted to make things perfect for Lauren but annoying that Lauren hadn't given the spiralling cost of her wedding a second thought. Lauren & Chris we almost my least favourite characters due to this but she did redeem herself towards the end.
All of these stories and characters are interwoven in to the small town where everyone knows everyone else. The back drop of the dance floor is fantastic, I loved the descriptions of the dance, of Angelicas costumes and glamorous past and the emotions that come out through dance. This is a fabulous story combining the glamour and excitement of dance with the trials and tribulations in human relationships. It is all wrapped up rather neatly in the end - a bit like a Christmas special. But considering the time of year I didn't mind... I thoroughly enjoyed it!