About the book:
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 loved the idea of interconnecting stories and how we touch the lives of others whether we realize it or not. The people you see every day or regularly are a part of your life even if you don't know their names or their backgrounds. Each of the characters in this book had his or her own flaws which seems like an attempt to make them more real, but some of those flaws made it hard for me to like the characters. I found this to be especially true with the male characters.
Harry Korn has been living in his apartment since before Maria's father, Manuel, moved in to be the super. He has kept to himself to such an extent that his neighbors barely know him. He has been giving dance lessons to Maria for years without anyone knowing about them, but the whole time he has been harboring a dream of a future life with Maria. Maria longs to be a dancer and loves learning from both Harry and her dance partner, Angel. Joseph always thought he would one day marry, but instead he comes weekly to the ballroom and dances, but barely reveals anything about himself to his partners, including his last name. Sarah thinks that if only she can improve her dancing she can attract Gabriel who she thinks will bring her life the fulfillment she has been looking for. Gabriel has been trying to make the perfect life for himself and get away from his memories of his mother and her manipulation to get him to be her dance partner.
At times I wasn't sure where the story was going or how most of the storylines could have happy endings. It seemed to come around to the fact that happiness can only come from being honest to yourself and to others and to find what makes your own heart happy, not someone else's. IF we take responsibility for our own happiness first, we can bring that happiness to others on our life journey. Some of these characters learn that lesson, but not all of them.
- Hardcover: 304 pages
- Publisher: Harper (September 23, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0062323032
- ISBN-13: 978-0062323033
For more about Alice Simpson check out her website: Alice Simpson
Here's the tour schedule:
Wednesday, September 10th: Tutu’s Two Cents
Thursday, September 11th: she treads softly
Monday, September 15th: Kritters Ramblings
Tuesday, September 16th: BookNAround
Wednesday, September 17th: I’d Rather Be At The Beach
Thursday, September 18th: Walking With Nora
Tuesday, September 23rd: Drey’s Library
Wednesday, September 24th: Books, Books Everywhere
Monday, September 29th: Book Loving Hippo
Wednesday, October 1st: Book by Book
Friday, October 3rd: Stephany Writes
Monday, October 6th: Consuming Culture
Wednesday, October 8th: Reads for Pleasure
Thursday, October 9th: bookchickdi
TBD: cakes, tea and dreams