Feb 262014
 

DancingMaster_mck.inddAlec Valcourt Is Bringing Dancing Back!

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Source: Review Copy from Publisher

TYPE OF NOVEL: Historical Romance, Regency Romance

SETTING: 1815, Beaworthy, Devonshire, England

MAIN CHARACTERS: Julia Midwinter (wealthy and beautiful heiress), Alec Valcourt (a fencing and dancing master from London), Lady Amelia Midwinter (Julia’s strict mother who dislikes dancing), John Desmond (a mysterious man who seems to have had quite a scandalous past in Beaworthy)

SYNOPSIS:

For the last twenty years the citizens of Beaworthy have not engaged in dancing, assemblies, or balls. Due to a scandal, duel, and death of her brother, Lady Amelia has forbidden the pastime and the good people of Beaworthy have abided by her wishes. However, when Alec Valcourt, a dancing and fencing master from London, arrives on the scene, he begins to question this ban on dancing… 

WHAT I LOVED:

  • Unravelling Everyone’s Past: As always with Julie Klassen’s novels there is an air of mystery, intrigue, and undivulged secrets. Oh, how I loved being in the dark and trying to figure everything out on my own! In this novel, it seemed as if everyone had a secret in their past, and Julie Klassen revealed them at quite a deliciously slow pace. Why does Lady Amelia dislike dancing so much? Why did Julia’s father treat her with such disdain? Why did Alec and his family have to leave London? Not knowing all was an exquisitely delightful torture!
  • Endearing and Admirable Characters: Some characters in this tale definitely found their way into my heart! Ms. Klassen’s characters are well-drawn, complex, and engaging. Alec was an admirable and honorable hero; I enjoyed how he resisted Julia’s flirtations and forwardness. In addition, I think my favorite character in this novel was John Desmond – misunderstood, maligned, and mysterious – I just adored him! (And in my head I kept viggo_mortensen_wallpaper_5-normalpicturing him as Viggo Mortensen. *sigh*) In addition, the villagers of Beaworthy had me charmed – like Mrs. Tickle with her cakes and pies, loyal Mr. Barlow with his tender heart, and Walter Allen, the truest of friends.
  • Historical Tidbits and Depictions: Apothecaries, tutors, dancing masters – Julie Klassen’s novels have taught me a lot about different middle class professions. I took pleasure in learning what the average day of a dancing/fencing master in 1815 would be like, how he would advertise and promote himself, and the various types of classes and lessons he might offer. How I wish we still lived in a time of country dances, assemblies, and dancing masters!

WHAT I AM FEELING AMBIVALENT ABOUT:

  • Julia Midwinter, a.k.a. The Heroine: I most certainly don’t mind a flawed heroine – I like it when characters have lessons to learn or obstacles to overcome. Julia is reckless, inappropriate flirtatious, and has a propensity of thinking a little too much of herself. But the fact that she never felt love or kindness from her father and receives only rules and restrictions from her mother engaged my compassion and helped me understand her desperate need for attention and male admiration. I was pleased to see Julia grow into a more admirable person, but with her earlier vanity and coquetry, I couldn’t help but be reminded of Isabella Thorpe from Northanger Abbey!

WHAT I WASN’T TOO FOND OF:

  • Not Enough Resolution: For me, the story ended a little unsatisfying. There was a little too much summarization and tying up loose ends in the epilogue and not enough events and conversations happening on the page. I am glad to know the fate of these characters and to see a glimpse of their futures, but I feel shortchanged at not being there to hear the declarations and see the developments myself.

CONCLUSION:

What a delight it is to read another novel by Julie Klassen! I loved learning more
SilentGoverness_cover.indd
about the Regency Era and the lives of middle class workers as well as the landed gentry. While not my favorite novel by Ms. Klassen (current favorite: The Silent Governess), I still greatly enjoyed my sojourn to Beaworthy and unravelling all the secrets and scandals of the past there!

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  13 Responses to “The Dancing Master – Julie Klassen”

  1.  

    Ahhh…Viggo Mortenson enough said!

  2.  

    Thank you for the picture of Vigo,worthy addition to the post 🙂

    This sounds a little like Footloose in an historical setting! I am currently reading my first Julie Klassen book, which I’m pretty sure I discovered via you, so thank you!

    •  

      LOL, Ceri! Thank you! I spent a good chunk of time finding THE perfect pic for this post. 😉 Definitely see him with his hair a little long.

      Yes, it does sound like Footloose. I think I’ve seen other reviewers make that comparison.

      Looking forward to your thoughts on your first Klassen!

  3.  

    I have read all her other novels and I am so looking forward to this one. I feel like I learn a lot each time too.

  4.  

    Great review, Meredith! I should not be surprised because I always love your reviews 🙂 but it is a pleasure to read your thoughts so clearly explained! I am reading “The silent governess” and I think Julie Klassen is an amazing writer! I love her writing, I learn a lot of things and there are always mysteries to solve! Wonderful author! I look forward to this new book 😉

    •  

      You are so sweet, thank you Maria! I try hard to make sense and be clear with my thoughts, sometimes it isn’t easy! I definitely enjoy the little mysteries in Julie Klassen’s novels – I love how I’m not always able to figure them out correctly. 🙂

  5.  

    You´ve become a total expert in Julie Klassen!. I´m glad you enjoyed the novel. By the way… the idea of Mr Desmond with the features of Viggo… it´s very good choice! 😉

  6.  

    Interesting review had read a review on it before and thought “yes I’ll get that”, now I am not so sure. Thanks for the honest review, I am new to this author so think I will start by adding the silent governess to my TBR!

    •  

      The Silent Governess is a wonderful book to start with! There was definitely a lot to enjoy in this book, in some of her other books I almost don’t find anything to quibble about. My least favorite (so far) is The Apothecary’s Daughter.

  7.  

    I agree with meredith. “The silent governess” is a great place to start. It is still one of my favorites and it is the first one I read.

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