Reviewed by Antonella Townsend
I love a fairy tale retold and I’m thinking the French translation of Karine Lambert’s Now Let’s Dance would be Sleeping Beauty. Only our sleeping heroine aged a bit while comatose, which is just fine because the handsome prince is no spring chicken.
A dual narrative of alternate chapters introduces us first to Marguerite and then Marcel. Unknown to one another, they live in separate worlds, one rich the other poor. But they have one thing in common – grief.
Grief is a difficult subject to write. Too clinical and readers aren’t feeling it, too maudlin and readers still aren’t feeling it because they just want to pour a large gin and tonic and watch the news. But here readers are in safe hands – Karine writes it well, both descriptively and informatively; hidden within this book there is a mini grief guide with a positive outcome.
Readers watch and feel how Marguerite is coping, and she isn’t doing too well. Her late husband was an unimaginative, controlling pain in the derrière. She must never wear pants, she must never change her hairstyle from a chignon, she must not work outside the house, and strictly no pets. The reader might well ask – why was she grieving, rather than doing a jig on his grave? Karine explains the steps from a vital young girl to a sleep walking seventy-eight year old; Marguerite was cocooned in wealth, an easy life assuages boredom. And now alone she misses the barely animated lawyer lump that was her husband. Her doctor recommends a visit to a spa in the mountains.
Marcel, also grieving has lost Nora, the love of his life and childhood sweetheart. Theirs was a vibrant, fun, love story. Nora suffers a heart attack while swimming. Marcel is devastated. His daughter, Manou, buys him a holiday in a spa in the mountains.
Yes, I know, you can see it coming a mile off. Nevertheless, it is hard not to be cheering Marguerite on, time isn’t on her side, and all she has to do is take a chance. For once, not play it safe.
There is a blip of a problem in the shape of Marguerite’s son Frederic, who is a clone of his father. But that’s as far as I can go, for fear of straying into spoiler alert country.
The dialogue in this novel is a little stiff and the plot is predictable but has up-lifting messages: perhaps, grief is a door to walk through, and life isn’t over, until it’s over. Now Let’s Dance is a calming, feel good read. Fairy tales should have a happy ending and finding love is the best of endings.
Karine Lambert is a photographer and novelist living in France.
By Karine Lambert
Hardback ISBN 978 1 4746 05298 $49.99
Paperback ISBN 9781474605304 $29.99
E-Book ISBN 9781474605328 $16.99