01 October 2014

Ballroom by Alice Simpson

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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.

I have to say this: reading Ballroom by Alice Simpson disappointed me. Initially, the plot – with its different perspectives coming together and intertwining within the Ballroom – intrigued me and I hoped for an entertaining story. However, after meeting all the characters, I quickly lost interest. It did not take long for me to realize I didn’t really care for any of the perspective-offering characters, who are mostly sad, lonely individuals, and as the plot progressed, I couldn’t get myself to emotionally invest. Besides passing within the Ballroom, the characters, for the most part, only connect superficially and frustratingly, and I often wished for more depth in aspects of the characters and their interactions. Overall, Ballroom just felt a bit flat and dreary to me and though I was able to finish it, I cannot say I particularly enjoyed it. However, while this book didn’t work for me and I hesitate to actually recommend it, it is possible other readers may connect better with the characters and enjoy following their stories. So, if those interested in the plot synopsis want to take a chance, Ballroom may be worth a try.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours, I received a copy of Ballroom and the opportunity to provide an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review, and all the opinions I have expressed are my own. To read other opinions of the novel, click here.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this book for the tour.