Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Echoes of the Dance by Marcia Willett: a turgid saga

They were all there for different reasons - a broken romance, a destroyed career, a sudden loss, a secret life still to be acknowledged. All of them were hoping that the uplifting beauty of the Cornish countryside would bring them the peace for which they desperately longed. At the strange and lovely stone house on the edge of Bodmin Moor, cherished illusions are shattered, secrets are uncovered, and each of them discovers that in order to move forward they have to confront their pasts …

This is a rather turgid and peculiar blend of the worst kind of American cod-psychology and a Mills & Boon novel. It’s very overwritten and contains long scenes where characters think through their emotions and situations in great and laborious detail, either by themselves or with other people. It was all very exhausting and at times unintentionally amusing.

That’s not to say the basic premise isn’t interesting, as it is. Daisy is forced to reconsider her dancing career due to injury, Kate is coming to terms with the death of her husband, and Roly has to move on from an unrequited romance. A great deal of tension could have resulted from this set of circumstances but unfortunately the sheer amount of emoting dissolved any sliver of tension away that there might once have been. It’s a case of a misguided attempt at poetic prose killing all the plot stone dead.

The characters are themselves rather clich├ęd as well and so, no matter how much they discuss their various tragedies with each other, I never really cared about any of it. I did have some sympathy with Monica who’s cast as the evil mother of the piece, as she found everyone else in the book just as irritating as I did – but even she is really too much of a caricature to come to life on the page.

Towards the end, I got very bored and began skipping the purple prose to see if anything important happened. It doesn’t, and to cap it all the whole sudden issue of the sexuality of one of the characters in the final chapters is both badly planned and utterly ridiculous. It made me laugh and for all the wrong reasons.

Verdict: 2 stars. Badly-written and unrealistic

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