Review: Dancing Backwards in High Heels by Christine Darcas

Title: Dancing Backwards in High Heels

Author: Christine Darcas

Published: Hachette Australia 2008

Synopsis: At 42, Madeleine Hutchinson is in a rut. Newly arrived in Australia from America, she is struggling to cope with 2 children, a flagging marriage and an overwhelming sense of invisibility. One winter evening while trying to get her sick son to a GP, she glimpses couples dancing, touching and laughing in a warmly lit studio. Attracted to this new world and reminded of her younger self, she decides to join a Latin American dance class. Maddy starts reclaiming her identity on the dance floor – facing choices that threaten her marriage and temptations that could see her lose everything.

Status: Read from June 14 to 15, 2012 {Courtesy the author}

My Thoughts:

I was thrilled to be offered the chance to review Dancing Backwards In High Heels for the AWW Challenge, as it’s premise particularly appealed to me. The protagonist, Madeleine Hutchinson, is near my age and struggling with a recent move, a faltering marriage and adolescent children. Desperate to take control of her life, she takes up Latin Ballroom dancing.

For Maddy, dancing proves to be a catalyst for change, reawakening her identity as an individual, and as a woman, distinct from being simply a housewife and mother. I think many women in mid life are able relate to Maddy’s frustrations and can understand her need for something of her own. Dancing offers Maddy much of what she has been missing, the social interaction she has craved since moving to Melbourne, pride in her achievements, a reminder of her youth and the sense that she is still a desirable partner. Where the problem arises for Maddy is in her inability to merge these identities, finding herself alienated from her family when she is caught up in the excitement of her blooming confidence.

Darcas creates a realistic portrait of a troubled marriage, particularly when one partner has the financial and social power and fails to recognise the need for the other to have some autonomy. Maddy’s husband is largely unconcerned with her distress, though for her part, Maddy fails to clearly communicate her frustrations, so it is understandable that Maddy is tempted by Hugh’s attention and flattery.

I can’t speak as to the accuracy of the expat experience, though I did move with my husband when I was 6 months pregnant with our third child to a town where I knew no one, a 4 hour drive away from my family and friends, so I can sympathise with Maddy’s feelings of loneliness and isolation. I imagine this would be much more difficult when the move involves just not a change in location, and the loss of established relationships but also the vagaries of a new culture and expectations.

I was impressed that Darcas chose a slightly unconventional ending for the novel and I appreciated that the author respected both her protagonist, and her readers, by being true to the characters and their experiences.

I very much enjoyed Dancing Backwards In High Heels, partly because of my love of dancing (1,2 cha cha cha, 3,4 cha cha cha!) but mostly because it is a well written, emotionally honest and engaging novel. Anyone feel like going dancing?

Please stop by Book’d Out later today for Christine’s guest post, Muddled and American Down Under.

You will find it HERE

Dancing Backwards In High Heels is available to purchase

via Booko

E-book @Amazon (Kindle) I @Kobo I @iBooks I Google Play

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Angie S.
    Jun 19, 2012 @ 12:53:22

    Sounds like a really good one, thanks for the review!



  2. pollet Nelly
    Jun 19, 2012 @ 19:25:20

    Roman très agréable à lire. Beaucoup de femmes apprécieront et se reconnaîtront dans ce texte.



  3. Margaret Lynette Sharp
    Jun 19, 2012 @ 21:33:17

    I like the sound of this one. And yes, I love to dance.:)



  4. Christine Darcas
    Jun 20, 2012 @ 20:04:56

    Thank you, ladies, for stopping by! Et Nelly la Francaise – c’est gentil! Also, my thanks to Shelleyrae for creating such a classy blog. With all good wishes, Christine



  5. Michelle DennisEvans (@MichelleDEvans)
    Jun 20, 2012 @ 22:16:25

    There is something about dance.. when incorporated with a good story.
    Thanks for the great review – I’ll pop this one on my TBR list. xx



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