Book Review: The Dancing Master

10 Jan

210709Finding himself the man of the family, London dancing master Alec Valcourt moves his mother and sister to remote Devonshire, hoping to start over. But he is stunned to learn the village matriarch has prohibited all dancing, for reasons buried deep in her past.

Alec finds an unlikely ally in the matriarch’s daughter. Though he’s initially wary of Julia Midwinter’s reckless flirtation, he comes to realize her bold exterior disguises a vulnerable soul–and hidden sorrows of her own.

Julia is quickly attracted to the handsome dancing master–a man her mother would never approve of–but she cannot imagine why Mr. Valcourt would leave London, or why he evades questions about his past. With Alec’s help, can Julia uncover old secrets and restore life to her somber village…and to her mother’s tattered heart?

JKlassen-117Julie Klassen loves all things Jane–”Jane Eyre” and Jane Austen. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Julie worked in publishing for sixteen years and now writes full time. She is a three-time Christy Award winner and a 2010 Midwest Book Award winner for Genre Fiction. Julie and her husband have two sons and live in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota.

My Impressions:

The Dancing Master is the third novel I have read by Julie Klassen, and while not my all-time favorite (The Girl in The Gatehouse), it is still a good choice for fans of Regency fiction. Filled with entertaining characters, a quaint setting and echoes of Jane Austen and the Brontes, The Dancing Master is a good book to spend the cold winter nights with.

A duel, betrayal of affections and the loss of loved ones has caused Lady Amelia Midwinter, the benefactor of many in the small town of Beaworthy, Devon, to ban dancing. Afraid to lose her patronage, local citizens and businesses have followed her lead for twenty years. Alec Valcourt comes to the quiet village to restore his family honor and to reestablish his profession of dancing master. Met with discouragement and sometimes open hostility, Alec pursues his dreams and Lady Amelia’s daughter, Julia.

The Dancing Master deals with a variety of themes — secrets kept, betrayal, grudges and regrets. Many of the characters struggle with duty versus following their dreams. The two main characters are Alec Valcourt and Miss Julia Midwinter, but I was immediately drawn into Lady Amelia’s character. She is a puzzle. Seen as stern and aloof by everyone, including her daughter, Amelia has kept her warm, loving nature well hidden. I think she wants to do what is best for Julia and Beaworthy, but has let a broken heart and broken dreams color all she does. There are also some good minor characters that add flavor to the story — Miss Tinkle the baker, the dissenter/ranter Thorne family and even the despicable wrassling champions Felton and Joe. For Jane Austen fans, there are lots of hints of her books, from the dialogue to the character nuances. I was reminded of Emma, especially, while reading The Dancing Master.

Klassen includes a strong thread of faith in the novel as well. While there is much to regret and some characters struggle with self-worth, God’s redemption and love is shared throughout. So if you want a Regency novel complete with the manners and customs of the day and a story that includes a strong faith message, then check out The Dancing Master.


For other reviews, click HERE.

(Thanks to LitFuse for my review copy. All opinions are mine alone.)

To purchase this book, click on the image below.

Best-selling author Julie Klassen will be hosting a Kindle Fire HDX giveaway and a live webcast event (1/23) to celebrate the release of her latest novel, The Dancing Master. Filled with mystery and romance,The Dancing Master brings to life the social graces of ladies and gentlemen hoping to make a “good match” in Regency England.


One winner will receive:

  • A Kindle Fire HDX
  • The Dancing Master by Julie Klassen

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on January 23rd. Winner will be announced at the “All Things Jane (from Austen to Eyre)” Live Webcast Event on January 23rd. Connect with Julie for an evening of book chat, trivia, laughter, and more! Julie will also be taking questions from the audience and giving away books, Jane Austen and Jane Eyre DVDs, fun “Jane” merchandise, and gift certificates throughout the evening.

So grab your copy of The Dancing Master and join Julie and friends on the evening of January 23rd for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven’t read the book, don’t let that stop you from coming!)


5 Responses to “Book Review: The Dancing Master”

  1. Carole January 11, 2014 at 1:10 pm #

    Excellent review, Beckie! I’m about 100 pages in and, although it isn’t my favorite of Julie’s books, I’m a huge fan of Regencies and her writing, so I’m enjoying it very much.

    • rbclibrary January 11, 2014 at 1:14 pm #

      I’ll check your review when you post it. This one seems to have gotten mixed reviews. But I also like Klassen and like well-written Regencies.

  2. Titanic Buff January 13, 2014 at 11:09 pm #

    Great review. 😀 Personally I didn’t think TDM was up to par with Julie Klassen’s other books.

    • rbclibrary January 14, 2014 at 7:20 am #

      I liked her other books much more. Thanks for stopping by!


  1. Saturday Review of Books: January 11, 2014 | Semicolon - February 28, 2014

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