Book Review: Dancing Backwards by Salley Vickers

Title: Dancing Backwards
Author: Salley Vickers
Publisher: Picador
ISBN: 978-0312569327
Pages: 272
Genre: Fiction
Price: $15.00
Source: Publisher
Rating: 3.5/5

I enjoyed this light well written novel from the author of Miss Garnet’s Angel (which I was totally underwhelmed by frankly) the characters are engaging and the pace of the novel is perfect. I have actually read four of Salley Vickers novels, the above as already stated I wasn’t fussed by really, I loved Mr Golightly’s Holiday and The Instances of Number Three, but hated (don’t why) The Other side of You.

I have in fact had this on my to be read pile for a while as I wasn’t sure if I would like it or not. It is certainly readable, and the character of Vi is quite engaging. I really felt for her younger self, as we flit back and forth over her life, and I appreciated the older, thoughtful Vi, and the delicacy with which she becomes involved with her fellow passengers on the cruise ship.

The novel moves between the present and the past, to when Vi as a young student meets and becomes friends with the poet Edwin. In the course of the novel we discover what it was that came between Vi and her great friend Edwin, the betrayl of her friend has stayed with Vi throughout the intervening years, and she is on a journey to put that right. Her journey to New York by cruise ship has her meet a host of characters and gradually become involved in their own stories. This is an engaging novel about recovery, showing us that maybe it is never too late.

What I love about Salley Vicker’s writing is that she creates characters that are all normal, everyday folk dealing with everyday, normal situations. She describes them and their experiences with such insight and compassion, I think it can be said that she truly understands the human heart. I have to say that I intensely disliked the young Violet, she is so passive and such a conspirator in her own abuse it made me want to slap her (I know this is actually a critical part of the story, but really it was almost unbearable). Thank god for her inner voice telling her all the things I wanted to tell her! But I really liked the older Violet, and loved watching her inner transformation unfold and the self understanding and acceptance that she develops. All in all it was a great read for me.

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