Tag Archives: Christian Fiction Book Club

Book Review: Dancing On Glass

5 Nov

In the steamy city of New Orleans in 1974, Amalise Catoir meets Phillip Sharp, a charming, magnetic artist, unlike any man she has known.

A young lawyer herself, raised in a small town and on the brink of a career with a large firm, she is strong and successful, yet sometimes too trusting and whimsical. Ama’s rash decision to marry Phillip proves to be a mistake as he becomes overly possessive, drawing his wife away from family, friends, and her faith.

His insidious, dangerous behavior becomes her dark, inescapable secret. In this lawyer’s unraveling world, can grace survive Ama’s fatal choice? What would you do when prayers seem to go unanswered, faith has slipped away, evil stalks, and you feel yourself forever dancing on shattered glass?



Pamela Ewen practiced law for 25 years, and recently retired as a partner from the law firm of Baker Botts in Houston, Texas. She is an experienced public speaker, including numerous radio and television interviews, and as a guest speaker for book clubs, reading groups, retreats, churches of all denominations, literary festivals, universities, and many other organizations.

She serves on the board of directors of the Tennessee Williams Festival in New Orleans, and is also co-founder of the Northshore Literary Society in the Greater New Orleans Metro area north of Lake Pontchartrain. Recently she was honored with the 2009 Literary Artist of the Year Award by the St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana Arts Council.

My Impressions:

Dancing On Glass is a powerful story of a young woman caught in a web of deceit and manipulation as spun by the handsome and charismatic artist, Phillip Sharp.  Amalise Catoir is a 2nd year law student determined to make it in the male dominated field of the 1970s.  She is smart and fiercely independent, yet has a definite soft spot for the defenseless and wounded.  Phillip is very insightful yet deeply troubled and soon sees Amalise’s vulnerability.  Praying upon her sensitivity and nurturing personality, Phillip makes his way into her life.  Soon he has distanced Amalise from her family, friends and faith and has set himself up as the center of her world.

Pamela Ewen’s novel describes the way a sociopath can get past the common sense defenses that one has and manipulate others to suit their own desires. Amalise’s life soon becomes a balancing act.  She has to keep Phillip happy while working and studying.  When those things take up too much of her time, she soon learns that she is caught without any way of escape.

Dancing On Glass is set in New Orleans during the mid-1970s.  The city comes alive in Ewen’s writing.  And the era of women breaking into male dominated fields helps to set the stage for the struggles Amalise faces.  This novel is a wonderful work of psychological suspense.   Like Amalise’s friends and family, I wanted to warn her of the dangers just around the corner.  I look forward to Ewen’s next book that takes up where this one left off.

Highly Recommended.

(I received a copy of Dancing On Glass from B&H Publishers in return for a review.  The opinions expressed are mine alone.)


Julie at My Only Vice is hosting the Christian Fiction Book Club this month.  Check out her blog for discussion on Dancing On Glass.

I could not find any discussion questions for this book, so here are some of my own thoughts:

1.  Amalise is dedicated to The Plan — her and her mother’s desire for her to become a lawyer.  How does this shape her decision to leave Phillip?

Amalise does not  swerve from her goal of finishing law school, passing the bar and securing a position with a New Orleans law firm.  In this she is focused, not allowing anything, even Phillip to deter her.  She compartmentalizes that part of her life apart from her marriage.  I think without her career, she never would have broken free of Phillip.  She was able to maintain an identity apart from Phillip that allowed her to finally see through his lies and deception.

2.  At one point in their marriage, Phillip becomes physical in his abuse.  Why does Amalise put up with it?

Too often women endure physical abuse because they believe the lie that their husband/boyfriend is not really that abusive person.  Something else has caused the abuse — alcohol/drugs, their own actions.  Amalise blamed Phillip’s drinking and his childhood wounds.  But we are all responsible for our own actions despite our circumstances.  The character of Jude is a good counterpoint to Phillip.  Jude is the product of an abusive childhood with an alcoholic father.  Yet Jude takes responsibility for the life he creates.

3.  Amalise asks God to bless her marriage, even though she knows she entered into it without prayer and God’s wisdom?  Can God bless our actions when they go against His will?

God can take our mistakes and make something beautiful from them.  But I am not sure we can be truly blessed outside of His will.  As Amalise found out, our own free will is what causes so much hurt  (even to the innocent) in the world.

Here is a glimpse of Pamela Binnings Ewen’s next book — 

Chasing The Wind — coming August 2012.  8:47 A.M. on Wednesday, October 12, 1977, new-to-town businessman Bingham Murdock flew his small plane into New Orleans, banking it in such a way that a ray of sunshine shot through the city at light speed.

Amalise Catoir saw the flash from her sixteenth floor law office window. Finally feeling alive after the death of her abusive husband, she imagined seeing the plane was a fate for her eyes only; a special connection between the unknown giver and she, the recipient of light.

But someone else saw it, a six-year-old Cambodian refugee in foster care for whom a sudden burst of brightness reminds him of artillery fire.

Destined to cross paths with the man and the child, Amalise doesn’t yet know the deeper spiritual lesson she will learn: that we are responsible not only for the things we do, but also for the things that we don’t.