Dance Lessons by Aine Greaney
digital galley provided by NetGalley
expected publication date: March 30, 2011
Description from publisher website:
A year after her husband’s death in a sailing accident off Martha’s Vineyard, Ellen Boisvert bumps into an old friend. In this chance encounter, she discovers that her immigrant husband of almost fifteen years was not an orphan after all. Instead, his aged mother Jo is alive and residing on the family’s isolated farm in the west of Ireland.
Faced with news of her mother-in-law incarnate, the thirty-nine-year-old American prep school teacher decides to travel to Ireland to investigate the truth about her husband Fintan and why he kept his family’s existence a secret for so many years.
Between Jo’s hilltop farm and the lakeside village of Gowna, Ellen begins to uncover the mysteries of her Irish husband’s past and the cruelties and isolation of his rural childhood. Ellen also stumbles upon Fintan’s long-ago romance with a local village woman, with whom he had a daughter, Cat. Cat is now fourteen and living with her mother in London. As Ellen reconciles her troubled relationship with Fintan, she discovers a way to heal the wounds of the past.
Deeply rooted in the Irish landscape and sensibility, Dance Lessons is a powerful story of loss, regret, and transformation.
This was one of the toughest reviews to write. I really loved the book, but I found it difficult to get my thoughts on paper. I had no expectations when I started reading this book, but I was quickly caught up in the stories of Ellen, Jo and Cat. I found the story to be intriguing and haunting.
Ellen is trying to figure out what to do with the rest of her life after the sudden death of her Irish born husband when she finds out that her mother-in-law isn’t dead as her husband told her. She feels that she should try to find some answers about why he had lied about his mother being dead and just maybe, she might find some answers about her husband’s seemingly deep rooted anger and possibly what might have played a part in their marriage falling apart. Because the story unfolds so gradually, I got completely wrapped up in the drama of their lives and couldn’t stop reading. Without giving away too many plot points, the story tells of difficult situations that may not have been – no, they just weren’t handled very well and the lack of open discussion about feelings and life situations only leads to even more pent up resentments and strained relationships. Ellen finds the answers she seeks and in the process, I thought she learned some important things about her husband, his life and family, about people in general and about herself.
While I would have loved more detail at the end of the book, I also feel that it fits with the story overall and it works. This story has really stayed with me and continues to occupy my thoughts.
I also loved the wonderful descriptions of rural Ireland, the isolated farm and the locals that inhabit the small town that Jo lives in. I would most definitely recommend this book.