“BALLROOM” – Alice Simpson
Simpson’s first novel narrates the stories of five characters whose passion for ballroom dance and search for true love brings them together every Sunday night. The fictional New York Ballroom-years past its prime (think the recently closed Roseland Ballroom)-mirrors the dancers’ dreams that have, for most, turned drab and stale. The introduction of each figure in short but well-crafted chapters can be tricky at first. The fast-paced interconnected stories require the reader to associate each character with the matching description. Then the narrative begins to flow as fluidly as the accomplished dancers who “seem caught in a whirlwind.” Unmarried Joseph; three-time divorcee Sarah; 65-year-old Harry, in love with Maria, a woman young enough to be his daughter; handsome Angel, who dreams of opening his own dance studio; and lonely Gabriel, mired in a failing marriage-each is consumed by the quest for a fairy-tale ending. But in Sarah’s concluding story, she gives voice to the complexities and disappointments in life. “As if it was like a dance. This step, that step. Quick-quick-slow, just that simple. Always moving clockwise around the floor. But it isn’t like that. Life has no simple steps you can follow.” VERDICT This touching debut captures the intricacies and the unexpected of personal relationships.
—wrote Jane Leder, Evanston, IL, LIBRARY JOURNAL