Title: The Summer We Danced
Author: Fiona Harper
Publication Date: 7 April 2016
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
After a humiliating divorce and watching her former rock star husband leave her for a model live on reality TV, Pippa is determined to disappear. So she returns to the small Kent village where she grew up to make a fresh start. Little did she know that would mean saving her beloved childhood dance school or falling for her old school crush Tom too!
Thank you to Mira for providing me with a copy of The Summer We Danced in return for an honest review.
The setting for the story is Elmhurst, a sleepy Kent village with a fantastic community spirit, and the story centre’s around Miss Mimi’s School of Dance and the villagers’ efforts to save the ailing school.
Pippa Hayes is a likeable heroine who has returned to her childhood home in order to lick her wounds after going through an all too public and humiliating break-up with her now ex-husband, who left her for a glamour model that he met whilst participating in a reality TV programme! She used to love dancing and had hoped to make a career of it until she gave up on those dreams. After hiding away from life and putting on a few extra pounds, Pippa’s sister suggests that a return to dancing may be just what Pippa needs. Pippa is generally a positive character, however she has been a bit beaten down by life and is suffering from a lack of self-confidence and lonliness. Throughout the story we see her make new friends, re-connect with old friends and become an essential part of the village.
The supporting characters provide a great backdrop for the story. I enjoyed watching the relationship between Tom and his daughter Lucy develop throughout the book and I found all of the fellow dance students – Donna, Victoria, Dolly, Amanda, Nancy and Ruth – to be likeable and realistic characters. I particularly enjoyed the friction between Pippa and Nancy, which did keep me wondering what secrets their history held.
The wonderfully eccentric Miss Mimi is definitely a show stealer – whafting around in clouds of Chanel No.5, viewing the world through outrageously long false lashes and ignoring everything as mundance as finances and rent (!!), Miss Mimi is a law unto herself! A hard task master when it comes to her students, Miss Mimi has been working a bit too hard resulting in a downturn in both her health and her dance school.
Interestingly, the story definitely focused more on the dance school than on the romantic sub-plot, which is somewhat unusual for this tpye of book. The romance element really only kicks in during the second half of the book and yet the story would still be interesting even had that element been altogether absent. This demonstrates the amount of thought that Harper must have given to the storyline beyond the usual romantic element.
I enjoyed Harper’s easy style of writing and found the book to be an entertaining read. The ending is somewhat predictable, yet this is not unusual for books of the romantic fiction (or Chick Lit) variety and I think that the pleasure from these books is largely contained in the storyline rather than the ending.
Overall, The Summer We Danced is a sweet and heart warming story. It is an uplifting tale of friendship, love and community spirit, perfect for a light and entertaining summer read.
About the Author
As a child, Fiona was constantly teased for two things: having her nose in a book and living in a dream world. Things haven’t changed much since then, but at least in writing she’s found a use for her runaway imagination. Fiona lives in London.