For the last 20 years I have been part of a dance group- I’m not a professional dancer, its all recreational, but it is something that runs through my veins and I just can’t seem to stop attending classes. When TLC Book Tours had the book Ballroom available for review I jumped at the opportunity to read it.
Author: Alice Simpson
Source: Received from TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review
Told in interconnecting stories, Ballroom is a beautifully crafted debut novel—reminiscent of the works of Elizabeth Strout and Jennifer Haigh—about a group of strangers united by a desire to escape their complicated lives, if only for a few hours each week, in a faded New York City dance hall
Time has eroded the glamour of the Ballroom, but at the end of the 1990s, a small crowd of loyal patrons still makes its way past the floor-to-ceiling columns which frame the once grand hall each Sunday evening. Sweeping across the worn parquet floor under a peeling indigo ceiling, these men and women succumb to the magic of the music, looking for love and connection, eager to erase the drab reality of their complicated lives.
Nearly forty and still single, Sarah Dreyfus is desperate for love and sure she’ll find it with debonair Gabriel Katz, a dazzling peacock who dances to distract himself from his crumbling marriage. Tired of the bachelor life, Joseph believes that his yearning for a wife and family will be fulfilled—if only he can get Sarah to notice him. Besotted with beautiful young Maria Rodriguez, elderly dance instructor Harry Korn knows they can find happiness together. Maria, one of the Ballroom’s stars, has a dream of her own, a passion her broken-hearted father refuses to accept or understand.
As the rhythms of the Ballroom ebb and flow through these characters’ hearts, their fates come together in touching, unexpected ways.
About the Author
As a child, I tangoed on my father’s feet to the songs of Gardel and Piazzolla, and it was then that dance crept into my bones and being. Later in life, I returned to dance again—in ballrooms, at milongas, and in the moonlight on barges floating on the Hudson River.
The Ballroom of my novel is a shabby place, having existed longer than time should have allowed. Under the spin of the mirrored ball, those who want to be held, to dance, and pretend there is love in their lives return each Sunday night. Neither Dancing with the Stars nor Saturday Night Fever—it’s only a ballroom past its prime, where characters are confronted with universal concerns of existence—meaning, love, loss and the inescapability of age.
Alice Simpson, a visual artist, also taught at F.I.T, SVA, Parsons. Her artist books and sculptures about dance are internationally exhibited, and part of Special Collections at Lincoln Center Library for the Performing Arts, NY, Yale, Harvard, Stanford, UCLA, and The Victoria & Albert Museum. She is frequently invited to speak—about the influence of dance in her work.
BALLROOM’s first four chapters received second place award for fiction in 2013 at the SF Writers Conference. A chapter from “Ballroom” was nominated by The Writer’s Voice (NY) for Best New American Voices. Chapters have appeared in WV (Writer’s Voice Magazine, NY), Words & Images Journal (U. of Maine), TangoDanza Magazine (Berlin), and a limited edition, Tango Bar.”
Ballroom by Alice Simpson was a very well written book- although the story isn’t overly complex, the interwoven story lines along with the multi-dimensionality of the characters helps to create a wonderful story that any one- dancers and non-dancers alike can fall into. I found the characters easy to relate to, and not because I understand the dance world, their lives outside of the dancing world also helped me to relate the characters. I could completely relate to the dancers as they waited for the next ballroom event and yearned to be on the dance floor- I myself experience this every time I am waiting for the next dance practice or concert.
I really enjoyed the interconnecting stories of these characters- its interesting to see how the lives of different characters (or even people) are interconnected in small ways. I also enjoyed the fact that this book was based in the late 1990’s, which added another dimension to the story.
I always find it interesting to see where authors get inspiration for their stories, and enjoyed the fact that Alice was also bitten by the dance bug at a young age. I love that she was able to put her love of dance into a book and share it with the world.
Overall I thought that this was a really well written book with interesting characters. It didn’t wow me to the point of being a 5 hippo book, but I did enjoy it, so I give it:
Thank you to
For allowing me to participate in this tour.