There is vitality to this novel that I found refreshing. The author’s ability to capture the spirit, the essence, of her characters extended way beyond mere florid descriptions. And so I enjoyed the fascinating cast of characters that filled the setting in Clearwater, a small Northern California town.
No doubt about it “The Long Dance Home” is a modern love story, and other reviewers have elegantly articulated the romantic travails of CeCe. But I choose to focus on some other aspects of this well told story; the loving homage to the arts —specifically ballet, the joys of an imperfect family—where the stepmother is a gem, the loyalty of friendships—even if the best bud is a goof, the reverence for tradition—even if it’s the annual children’s performance of “The Nutcracker,” the desire to do one’s very best—even if mistakes are made along the way, and finally the pain of loss—the price for feeling alive.
We meet the Russian-born ballet instructor, Ilana who nurtured the dance prodigy we know as CeCe, as a young child. But due to the fragility of age, and the onset of senility in her mentor, CeCe finds herself experiencing a different kind of loss–the emotional fading of the most influential person in her life. The scene with the crystal ballerina Christmas ornament, a gift received many years before from a then vital Ilana, I found to be both poignant and meaningful.
Finally, there is adroitness in penmanship (especially the dialog) that separates author Julie Brown from many of her peers: there’s a sequence when her current beau visits CeCe’s parents’ home for the first time—the snappy exchange between boyfriend, family and friends still makes me chuckle. This is lively and refreshing stuff that I encourage other readers to enjoy!