Julie Midwinter has lived a very difficult life. And it is not for want of money. Quite the contrary. She has had a life of relative ease. But what she lacks is love. With a cold father and an a mother who is nearly as forbidding Julie hopes to one day be free of the village she has grown up in, to see the world and experience another life entirely. But for now it looks like she is stuck in a dreary and dance-less place. Alec Valcourt is a dancing master so when he comes to live in a little town in Devonshire he is flabbergasted to learn dancing is a major no-no. Out of work he takes a job as clerk for Lady Amelia, the lady responsible for the “outlawing” of dancing in the area. Working for the estate puts Alec in regular contact with Julie, Lady Amelia’s daughter. Together the pair seek to bring life back into the depressing Midwinter home and break the rules and constraints local society has placed on the villagers.
Julie Klassen rarely disappoints. Her books always feature unforgettable characters one is willing to follow off the edge of a cliff just to see what their next move will be. Even the villains are always of intense fascination and are not wholly evil but allow for a little good to shine through. So where am I going with all of this? I had high hopes for The Dancing Master as I do for each book Ms. Klassen releases. Unfortunately those hopes were dashed. From the opening to about midway the story dragged. The mystery surrounding Lady Amelia’s reasons for outlawing dancing grew monotonous after so long. Each time someone would go to finally unveil it an interruption in the form of a visitor or some such thing would delay it. This happened more times than I would care to remember.
Then there are the characters. Both Julie and Alec came across as insipid ninnies. Selfish Julie spends quite a bit of time fighting with a mother she thinks does not love her and flirts with every man she comes across. She rarely takes responsibility for her actions but likes to blame a lot of her shortcomings on what she views as a severe mother. It is my opinion that the only character with half a brain was Lady Amelia although she did have her faults (don’t we all). Alec has an aversion to manual labor because he is a fop who shudders to think he’ll have to get dirty to help support his mother and sister after his father abandons the family. I would think that as a newcomer and with an unwanted profession like his he would take whatever job he could get. And so I ask you what kind of hero and heroine is that to look up to? This of course was my own opinion. I still believe that this is a book worth reading as we eventually get to the part of the story that makes Ms. Klassen such a well-loved author. So go for it – the world is your oyster! Read and enjoy.
DISCLAIMER: In accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising” we would like to note that we received an electronic copy of “The Dancing Master” from NetGalley.com provided by the publishers, Bethany House, in exchange for our honest review.