07 Feb The Dancer’s Promise by Olivia Horrox
A story of dreams of fame and fortune and romance
Welcome to my latest blogtour and my review of The Dancer’s Promise by Olivia Horrox.
Set in 1936, this story follows the fortunes of Clementine Harrington, who at 17 is close to her dream of joining the Vic-Sadler ballet company. She longs to star on stage – but there are obstacles in her way. Her mother, an impoverished reclusive widow, disapproves of her dancing and refuses to countenance funding it.
Could Clementine find salvation in the shape of August Draper, their new neighbour, who is in search of a wife? She does not love him but together they could travel the world, following her dreams. Sadly, August is more interested in Clementine’s older sister, Grace.
Can either sister really marry for money, not love? Is there any other way to escape their mother’s malign influence?
As the narrative progresses, tensions rise, and Clementine’s dreams remain tantalisingly out of reach …
Enthralling world of ballet
I do love a ballet story – I grew up on a diet of Noel Streatfeild’s books, following the fortunes of girls like Posy Fossil, poor girls with unlimited dreams.
The Dancer’s Promise is Ballet Shoes for grown-ups and is equally enthralling as you enter into the world of block shoes, endless practice, exercise barres, dancers’ rivalries and leading roles.
Along with Clem, a very attractive character who is headstrong, focussed and passionate about her art, there is a handsome hero in Rudi, her dance partner, who supports her dreams, and probably knows her better than she knows herself.
Grace is an empathetic character, too, and August is just charming.
Along with themes of ambition, and tales of romance, this story also perfectly explores the strong bonds of sisterhood, with Clem and Grace sparking off each other and uniting against their mother. She’s an interesting character, too, just on the right side of monstrous. Could there be reasons for her selfishness and disdain of her daughter’s dream?
Given this is set in 1936, and one of the supporting characters, Jacob, is a Jew, I expected this story to go in to the political turmoil that was brewing for the world. But though the author acknowledges the gathering clouds of war, she stays strongly focussed on Clementine’s story, keeping it personal at all times as she steps her way through the many, often heart-breaking obstacles strewn in her path.
I liked the way the title The Dancer’s Promise worked. Clementine has promise but she has also made a promise, to herself and her teachers and her late father, and she stays true to it throughout the story.
Heartbreak, sacrifice, ambition and romance – what more could a reader ask for in a book?The Dancer’s Promise is an enjoyable and entertaining read to curl up with on these winter nights.
The Dancer’s Promise is published by Embla in paperback and ebook
About the Author
Olivia Horrox studied English Literature and Creative Writing at Bath Spa University, and wrote her dissertation on post-WW1 societal changes in The Great Gatsby which has inspired her own writing. She lives in London with her husband and a very cantankerous cat called Coco. Look out for her debut historical novel Beautiful Little Fools.
Thanks to Tracy of Compulsive Readers for inviting me along on this tour, and to publishers EmblaBooks for an advance copy of this book. Catch up with the rest of the blogtour through the links on the poster.
More like this