Saturday, January 23, 2021


“Our kids, my, my, Gracie” laughed Bud. “Where did we go wrong? One marries God, another a Jew and the last one, the devil!”

Texas, 1951. The Wolanskys—Grace, Bud and their three grown children—are a close-knit clan, deeply rooted in their rural community and traditional faith. On their orderly farm, life seems good and tomorrow always holds promise.

But under the surface, it’s a different story. Grace is beset by dark memories and unnamed fears, calmed only by practicing a secret obsession. Their son Andy has said no to becoming a farmer like his dad and, worse, has fallen in love with a big-city Jewish girl. Youngest child Regina is trapped in a loveless marriage to an abusive, alcoholic husband. Even “perfect” daughter Angela’s decision to become a nun unleashes consequences no one could foresee.

And then Ceil Dollard breezes into town.

Ceil—wealthy, sophisticated, irrepressible—is like a visitor from Mars. She’s a modern woman. She drives a car and wears pants. She blows away tradition and certainty, forcing Grace to face her fears and brave a changing world. Through Ceil, Grace learns about courage and pleasure—but at the risk of losing Bud.

Barbara Frances’ sparkling, richly human novel takes you back to a time when Ike was president and life was slower, but people were the same as now. You’ll encounter a cast of characters storm-tossed by change, held together by love. Written with compassion, humor and suspense, Like I Used to Dance will charm you, warm you and even squeeze a few tears, from its opening number to the last waltz. 

You'll Be Hooked on This Book

Verified Purchase

After only a few pages I was hooked by Like I Used to Dance and Barbara Frances' gifts as a storyteller. She creates multidimensional characters who are so real that I found myself thinking about them in between sessions with the book, and she weaves a plot that is by turns suspenseful, funny, touching and gripping. Set in a rural Texas community more than sixty years ago, the book explores social, racial and family themes -- many of which continue to resonate today. But above all, it's a great read! It will take you places where you've never been, from a KKK meeting that is both sinister and pathetic, to a heartbroken man's encounter with a mystical fox. Barbara Frances writes with insight, compassion, full knowledge of the human heart, and lots of twists, turns and surprises. Highly recommended.

M. M. Bishop Award-winning author and poet

Reviewed in the United States on December 31, 2020

It is easy to see how Like I Used To Dance by Barbara Frances won awards. It is a novel that should easily find its way into classic literature. It is not just the story of the Wolanskys, who live in a small farming town in the nineteen-fifty’s, but the story of life, and how even generations of family issues can affect each new generation unless something happens to break the cycle.
Ms. Frances paints a picture of each character, their weaknesses, as well as the strength in their character. From Grace, and Bud, their three grown children, to neighbors, and friends, each is drawn with a fine pencil, fully formed, and genuine, some are people you wish you knew, and others you would like to string up. Yet, each is so well crafted as to be able to see them in your life, or town.
Whether she is painting the generous nature of Bud, to the horror of Billy Ray, Ms. Frances brings us a full picture of life as it was, and life as it still is. Many things may have changed in our world, underneath there is still an underbelly of both the beauty and ugliness of human nature.
Like I Used To Dance was not a book that I could easily put down, but sat up till the wee hours of the morning reading.

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