Friday, November 4, 2016

To Dance Once More (Sherri Wilson Johnson) Book Review

2016 Reading Challenge

42. To Dance Once More by Sherri Wilson Johnson

Debutante Lydia Barrington lives a carefree, protected existence on Live Oaks Plantation in Florida. While her sisters happily prepare for their traditional roles as women and talk of courting, Lydia dreams of adventure and independence. She counts the days until she can leave home to explore the world, to dance with cultured gentlemen, to explore politics and art, to leave behind the confining expectations of her family and community—and her God. Even her friendship with handsome Hamilton Scarbrough isn’t enough to hold her back…until they dance, and her heart considers love.
Confused by her heart's betrayal, Lydia struggles to gain her independence. Then she overhears a private conversation about a business deal that has everything to do with her future. Now she’s faced with the biggest decision of her life—to concede or to fight. Either choice will require great sacrifice…and, perhaps, countless rewards. In an attempt to escape her imminent destiny, Lydia scrambles to find a solution—at all costs. Amidst the trials that follow, as Lydia runs out of time, she learns the meaning of sacrifice, forgiveness, hope and faith.

My Review:
Before I get started, I just wanted to say that I usually don't like to read historical fiction. There was something about the synopsis that made me want to read it. It was a little slow and hard to get into in the beginning, but I got hooked after several chapters. What I appreciated was how Sherri captured and conveyed the late 1800s in impeccable fashion.

Back in the 1800s, the men worked, while the women took care of the household and children. And the children were raised and prepared for those traditional roles. It was also a time when the father chose and approved of who would marry their daughter(s). As I'm writing this, it reminds me of The Fiddler on the Roof - except that in that, they're Jewish and in this story, the family is Christian.

This is a great coming of age story. Lydia's sisters have always accepted their expectations and are ready and prepared when they come of age. Lydia, on the other hand, has been more restless and a dreamer. She would rather travel and experience other parts of the world than getting married off into what society wants her to do when she gets old enough. She has wanted freedom from the protected and sheltered life she has grown up in. 

Since this is also historical romance, Lydia has dreamed of marrying her childhood friend (also her twin brother's best friend). When she overhears that her father has made a deal to marry her to someone else, she's crushed and becomes more rebellious. At each of her sister's coming of age and community parties, there's dancing involved, hence the title. Dancing with Hamilton makes her fall in love even more with him, but knows it's not possible. Her mission is to become more determined to have one more dance with him and be with him for the rest of her life. When Lydia goes to visit family with one of her sisters, she discovers that they're not perfect either. Lydia also happens to fall in love with another guy, despite the warnings from her family. It leaves her feeling more conflicted than ever. Unfortunately, it ends in tragedy, leaving Lydia to sink into a depression like state back home and her family puts up with her demeanor for a little bit. At Lydia's coming of age party, she dances with all of the men who are interested in calling or courting her. After she gets over being selfish over the one she lost, Lydia realizes that she has no choice but to marry Frank. It's a deal that their respective fathers made as a bargain like thing. Frank and Lydia get married and put on an act to make it seem that they're in love and happy with each other. After Frank's father dies, they finally get the chance to end the marriage and get married to their original lovers. 

Throughout her journey of coming of age, Lydia gradually becomes a woman of grace and maturity. I also liked the fact that this was a female empowerment story in a way. Lydia has so many dreams that she wants to accomplish before starting a family and she gets the encouragement of her teacher. I wanted to remind you that we, as women or girls, can do anything we put our mind to. Never stop going after your dreams.

Happy Reading and Keep on Writing!


No comments:

Post a Comment