Dancing With The Dead by Deborah Gregory

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Dancing With The Dead by Deborah Gregory

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Category: Literary Fiction
Rating: 3/5
Reviewer: Karen Inskip-Hayward
Reviewed by Karen Inskip-Hayward
Summary: An intense story which alternately intrigues and bores the reader.
Buy? No Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 232 Date: October 2007
Publisher: Solidus
ISBN: 978-1904529309

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I wanted to read Dancing with the Dead, because I'm interested in family history. The blurb on the back of the book also mentioned Gill – our heroine of the piece – was moving from Bristol (my current home) to Lincolnshire (where I was born and brought up). I felt with all these links, the novel could not fail to interest me – but this was not the case.

The story follows Gill, who moves into Ramsons, a family home in Lincolnshire, which she has inherited after the death of her Great Aunt Tilly. Gill is married to Seb – who often works away from home as an actor – and they have two young children, Adam and Rosie. Soon after moving into Ramsons, Seb leaves to work in Scotland, leaving Gill alone with the kids.

Gill fails to cope with the demands of Ramsons with its primitive cooking and heating facilities, adding to the stresses of two demanding children and being alone without her husband, friends and family. As she tips into depression, she finds the line between the past and the present blurring.

Her late Great Aunt Tilly wrote long letters in the last months of her life, which are given to Gill once she moves into Ramsons. Through these letters, Gill learns the secrets of her ancestors and how they affected her family before her. Soon, her ancestors become more real and important to her than her present and she seems somehow locked into a unique place between two worlds.

This idea is an interesting one and I enjoyed reading about Gill's ancestors. The parts set in the present were less engaging. I found her daughter Rosie to be extremely annoying, so had little interest in what may happen to her. The character of Seb, Gill's husband, was hardly described before he flitted off and out of the story, apparently never to return on the pages again.

The only character in the present that was really well described was Gill herself and she was also difficult to like, which made it hard to sustain an interest in the book as a whole. If the writing had been sparkling, this would have made it easier, but it tries so hard to be literary fiction that it was often hard to concentrate. Long descriptive prose and plenty of trying to be clever phrases made the read rather more tedious than was necessary and it all became rather a chore to read it.

The novel isn't awful overall and I did enjoy some parts and read the last fifty pages or so in one sitting, although then found the ending rather disappointing and something of an anti-climax. This sums up the whole novel for me really – good in parts, but probably not worth the effort.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

If this book appeals then you might also enjoy All We Ever Wanted Was Everything by Janelle Brown.

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Buy Dancing With The Dead by Deborah Gregory at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Dancing With The Dead by Deborah Gregory at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Dancing With The Dead by Deborah Gregory at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Dancing With The Dead by Deborah Gregory at Amazon.com.


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