Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Dancing At Midnight, by Julia Quinn - Review

I think this is one of those cases where I like a particular author well enough to forgive a multitude of sins. Dancing At Midnight is a 1995 title, so Quinn has put a lot of pages under her belt since this one. And often when I go into a favorite author's backlist, I'm disappointed by the skill level of their earlier stuff.

I'll say that her recent books are much, much better. More polished. Less flawed.

But somehow I was still charmed by this story, mostly thanks to the cheerful, sweet heroine. Only slightly quirky and without an angstrom of existential angst, Belle has a personality that leaps off the page without being caricaturish. She keeps her head on her shoulders (so to speak) and doesn't suffer John's foolishness gladly. I liked her lots and lots, and she carried the book for me.

John is OK, but I'm not a big fan of the "I'm not good enough for her, therefore I will push her away FOR HER OWN GOOD" trope, and for the most part John did not rise above his trope. He had some good moments though, notably where he and Belle are enjoying each others' humor and wit-- moments of connection that I recognized from similar good times in my own best relationships. Moments when you're thinking: "this person gets me."

It would be easy to pick this book apart on technicalities but I'm stubbornly going to say: I liked it anyway. If you're a big fan of Quinn's heroines and dialog, you'll like it too. If you're in a highly critical mood or looking for the subtlety and deftness of her 21st-century books, eh, maybe take a pass on it.

4 comments:

MsM said...

Good review.

I read a lot of Quinn in the 90's and really enjoyed her books. I am sorry to say it's been a few years since I've picked up any of them.


MsM

Lori said...

This is actually my favorite Quinn book. I loved it. And while I totally see your point about John (the "I'm not good enough for you" thing), little did he realize that his actions all the way through the book proved his worth, even though Belle never thought he needed to. Not having been in war, I can't guess at the guilt that comes with thinking you've caused another's death, especially the situation he was in. But I loved it when he decided he didn't care if he was good enough, he was having Belle anyway.

And I completely agree about the dialogue. So wonderful.

Good review!

Heloise said...

Oh, I'm so glad you liked it. Sometimes when our expectations are low enough the good in a book can be really enjoyable.

I remember this as a good book but not a great one. :)

The romantic query letter and the happy-ever-after said...

A truly thoughtful review and I'm not only saying that because I love this book.
Warm regards and a lovely week to you.

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