Sunday, July 31, 2011

Dancing Backwards for a holiday

I always save promising books for holidays - by which I mean time spent away from home - and almost always end up hardly reading at all because of whatever activity the holiday brings and the resulting torpor at the end of the day. But Dancing Backwards, by Salley Vickers, had me proposing 'a quiet morning' so that I could get on with it. All right, the weather was fine and the garden inviting and set in a favourite glen, so I wasn't exactly turning my back on life, but all the same ...

As with Miss Garnet's Angel, I found myself liking the principal character from the first page. Her dismayed reaction to the queues to join her expensive cruise ship struck a chord, as did her determination to have the windows open to the sea while she slept. I felt safe and engaged and ready to explore the ship, the other passengers and Violet's past - and I knew I had the breadth of the Atlantic in which to do it.

The prose is deceptively simple and calmly perfect. Past and present follow one another in illuminating pairings as Violet is prompted to remember by the events of the cruise. And as she recalls her past we learn more about the woman she has become, and understand why she becomes so involved with the people she meets. Her involvement with Dino, one of the professional dancers on the ship, completes this stage in her development and she leaves the ship in New York with a new ability to cope with the next stage in her life.

So yes, it was a good book for a holiday. I don't know how it makes me feel about a cruise, though ...

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