Monday, July 16, 2012

Review: "Dance, Gladys, Dance" by Cassie Stocks

27-year-old Frieda Zweig is an artist at heart, but after receiving some harsh criticism and breaking up with her long-term boyfriend she has decided not to paint anymore and instead she determines to see how "normal people" live. She packs up her things and heads to her home province of Saskatchewan to crash with her friend Ginny for a while while she figures out her next move. While perusing the classifieds for a job one day she sees this ad:
Beautiful old phonograph for sale. 78 record player. Excellent condition. Gladys doesn't dance anymore. She needs the room to bake. Bring offer. Ph. 254-9885.
Answering the ad in the hopes of meeting a normal person with whom she can begin her research on what "normal" people do, Frieda is surprised when she goes to see the phonograph and instead meets a lonely widower names Mr.H. with a room to let. Frieda moves in to his attic accommodations and quickly finds herself as far from normal as possible. With a new collection of unlikely friends, a cause to fight for that is close to her heart, and the mysterious appearance of a ghost named Gladys, Frieda begins to let go of some of her personal hang-ups and embarks on a journey to find her true self.

Not only was Dance, Gladys, Dance fun to read, it was thought-provoking and inspiring as well. The underlying theme of the book was to let your true self shine through despite any obstacles that may find themselves in your path. Frieda has let the fact that she dropped out of art school and hit a few roadblocks in her career as an artist stop her from painting, her true passion, but Gladys the ghost is determined to show Frieda that following her heart is the only thing that will result in true fulfillment.

The character development was particularly strong in this novel, and I found myself wanting to go down to Mr. H's house and hang out with the electric crew. Each character had a distinct personality and it was enjoyable getting to know each one better. The story was very much focused on two of the characters, Frieda and the departed Gladys, but each of the other characters had an interesting story of their own. I particularly enjoy character-driven novels and I found Dance, Gladys, Dance a pleasure to read as a result.

Adding to my enjoyment was the fact that I really liked the ending. It was unexpected and quirky and not all of the loose ends were tied up, allowing me to use my imagination to determine what could happen next.

Dance, Gladys, Dance reminded me that it is important to follow dreams, no matter how impossible they may seem at times. With an intriguing cast of characters and a satisfying ending, there's something for every fiction lover. My thanks to the publicist for providing me with a review copy, and please check back tomorrow when I will be hosting the author for a guest post as well as offering a giveaway copy to one lucky Canadian reader!

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