An aptly named novel, The Dancing Master narrates the lives of several individuals influenced by dance and dancing masters. Julia Midwinter, a headstrong young woman seeking answers to her past, finds herself drawn to the handsome London dancing master, Alec Valcourt, who has moved to small, remote Beaworthy in order to escape his own secret history and start over. However, the presiding matriarch of the village and Julia’s mother, Lady Amelia, has forbidden any form of dance in the village, a result of her undisclosed and painful past. As Julia and Alec struggle to bring life back to solemn Beaworthy, they both discover the beauty of grace and love in restoring relationships. Ms. Klassen is a wonderful writer and uses fascinating bits of history to make her story come to life; the epigraphs before each chapter are especially creative and significant. The language of her characters and the images of the scenes allow the reader to be transported back to the nineteenth century. Ms. Klassen does not simply insert words unnecessarily, but instead includes meaningful conversations and descriptions that truly contribute to the story. She only reveals the many secrets in the novel at opportune times, leaving the reader eagerly flipping pages to discover more. Her characters have realistic flaws, but through lessons of forgiveness and grace, they learn to grow from their pasts and improve their relationships with each other and with God. Long-admirers of Ms. Klassen who have devotedly followed her from her first exceptional novel, Lady of Milkweed Manor, will not be disappointed with yet another well-written historical gem. This novel and its author are both highly recommended.
I received a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.