“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.
5.0 out of 5 stars LOVE IT! - Family Saga Full of Drama and Heart
Don’t start this book before bedtime or you’ll be late to work! I love family sagas and this one swept me along. It’s about Grace, a warm, creative woman strong for her family but out of touch with her own needs. The place is rural Texas and the time is the fifties, when women were still trapped as homemakers. The family is Catholic and Grace’s daughters have their own struggles. Angela is unsure if she should become a nun and Regina has to decide if she’ll divorce her abusive husband. Grace herself is a talented artist who has never realized her potential. She develops a close bond with Ceil, a sophisticated transplant from LA who blows into the life of Grace and her family like a powerful wind. In the end, everything turn s out but nothing is the same. A great read!
Reviewed in the United States on December 31, 2020
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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