‘THE DANCING MASTER,’ BY JULIE KLASSEN

January 17, 2014 23 Comments

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Generally speaking, regency fiction or really, most novels that fall within the historical fiction genre, is something I prefer as a cinematic production. For some crazy reason, I love it when I can see it through the lens of a vivid film but reading about it? I just haven’t been able to fall into the fan base. For this reason, this is only the second novel I’ve read by the much loved Julie Klassen.

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STORY: The story follows a young dancing instructor Alec Valcourt newly arrived from London to the small village of Beaworthy. Once there, living with his mother and sister under his uncle’s roof, Alec is anxious to set up a new academy only to learn that the estate landowner, Lady Midwinter forbids dancing of any kind. When he meets Julia Midwinter, the woman’s impetuous daughter, Alec is surprised to find she’s eager to go against her mother and learn the art of dance. Furthermore he learns she’s a young lady who has no scruples about who she flutters her eyes at. When past secrets begin to emerge, it’s up to Julia and Alec to restore happiness to the village that has tiptoed around Lady Midwinter for one too many years.

The Dancing Master, by Julie Klassen | Book Review

Whatever I may conclude about The Dancing Master, it’s inarguable that Klassen has talent, and it’s easy to see why her style is so often compared to the greats. She has a flair for an Austen familiarity and usually also sneaks in hints of mystery. Her prose is stylistically gorgeous which is what helps make the gorgeous cover design come alive. We’ve no problem feeling as if we’re “living” in regency England through the lives of Alec, Julia and each supporting character we encounter. My reservations about this novel is more personal taste than objection to its content although I will say its “love story” falls flat. What portrays itself as a romance is actually a novel about a young man coming to grips with his past and a young woman learning of her past. It’s in this where the story shines.

Klassen expertly weaves this story with red herrings and misdirection. While reading the latter half of the story, I flip-flopped more than once over what the truth is; and still I don’t guess what the “secret” is. It’s fantastic how in and out of mystery the author teases her readers; some of the characters do disappoint, but Julia’s search for truth doesn’t. While the theme of the novel(dancing) is superb, its focus isn’t as clear-cut as its peers. If you don’t mind the focal point of historical that uses its characters as individuals to tell a story, then The Dancing Master is for you. In this, it’s Alec we get to know best whereas Julia feels more like a figure in the background.

Unless I miss my guess, fans of Julie Klassen will enjoy this historical reading.

About the Book:

(Disclosure: this post does contain affiliate links; if you buy anything through these links, I may receive a small percentage of the sale at no extra cost to you. Thank you to anyone who makes a purchase through these links. Read the disclosure page for details.)

Author: Julie Klassen
Publisher: Bethany House
Publication Date: 2014
Find the Review elsewhere: Amazon | Goodreads | WordPress
Shop the Book: Bookshop.org | Goodreads
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

With thanks to the publisher (Bethany House) and the ladies at Litfuse for providing a complimentary copy of this book for reviewing purposes. 

About Rissi JC

amateur graphic designer. confirmed bookaholic. bubbl’r enthusiast. critical thinker. miswesterner. social media coordinator. writer.

Rissi JC

amateur graphic designer. confirmed bookaholic. bubbl’r enthusiast. critical thinker. miswesterner. social media coordinator. writer.

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23 Comments

  • Mrs. Pedersen January 17, 2014 at 1:47 PM

    Ah, I love a good book that weaves both romance and mystery.

    • Rissi January 17, 2014 at 7:12 PM

      Me, too, Heather. One of my favorite combinations. :)

  • Kristin January 17, 2014 at 2:03 PM

    I've heard that this one isn't quite as good as some of Julie Klassen's other books. I bought it last week but haven't read it yet. I assume (from your Goodreads) that the other book of hers that you've read is The Girl in the Gatehouse. I've read that one and thought it was pretty good. But my favorites of Klassen's novels by far are The Silent Governess and The Tutor's Daughter (absolutely loved that one!). You should give one of those a try. :)

    • Rissi January 17, 2014 at 7:14 PM

      You assume correctly, Kristin! The other Klassen novel I read was indeed The Girl in the Gatehouse. I was just thinking that I may have preferred it over this novel but it's been too long. As to the two you recommend, thank you! I've heard fabulous things about The Tutor's Daughter so perhaps I'll read that one when I have a bit of time. I love the era in BBC drama, just not always in books. Weird…

      Hope you enjoy The Dancing Master; I think most fans will. :)

  • Jamie Lapeyrolerie January 17, 2014 at 2:52 PM

    One of my favorite parts was definitely all the secrets from Julia's past. They definitely threw me into a loop :)

    • Rissi January 17, 2014 at 7:16 PM

      That plot was masterfully written, Jamie! I was SO impressed; Julie had me flip-flopping over the end result until a certain point when I stuck with my assumption and was right. Wow. Loved that about the novel and of course, all of the beautiful dancing passages. :)

  • Ella January 17, 2014 at 5:25 PM

    I really like Julie Klassen's books, so I am planning on reading this one.

    Thanks for reviewing it:)

    • Rissi January 17, 2014 at 7:18 PM

      I think you'll enjoy this one then, Ella. The one novel I read by Julie wasn't a favorite for historical but most of my blogging buddies do LOVE her writing so if you're a fan also, I'm sure you will be glad to read this one, too. :)

      Happy reading.

  • Sara Bennett January 17, 2014 at 5:43 PM

    I've read all but one of Klassen's other books and I'm always excited when a new one comes out :) Nice review!!

    • Rissi January 17, 2014 at 7:19 PM

      Wonderful! Hope you enjoy The Dancing Master then, Sara. I loved the dancing passages and of course, the mystery. :)

      Thanks for reading!

  • Cathy January 17, 2014 at 6:48 PM

    I just got this book in the mail and looking forward to reading it. I love Julie's books. It's funny how everyone has a different favorite. : ) Mine was 'The Apothecary's Daughter ' keep me guessing till the end.

    Great review Rissi!

    • Rissi January 17, 2014 at 7:22 PM

      Yay! Hope you enjoy it, Cathy. I know a couple of girls who were anxious for their copy to arrive also so hopefully since you just got yours, theirs has arrived. It IS funny how we all have different favorites. I was just thinking this morning that I liked The Girl in the Gatehouse better than this novel however it's been too long in-between books.

      Love those guessing games in fiction… they're the best. :)

      Thanks for reading, Cathy.

  • Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com January 17, 2014 at 7:00 PM

    Great review sugar pie.

    • Rissi January 17, 2014 at 7:22 PM

      Thanks for reading, Juju. :)

  • Hannah Barta January 18, 2014 at 7:24 PM

    This sounds like a very interesting book, and your review was wonderful, Rissi :) I've had Julie Klassen on my reading list for a while, but have never gotten to any of her books–maybe this will be the year when I can change that! :)

    • Rissi January 18, 2014 at 9:21 PM

      Yay! Do, Hannah. Julie has a fabulous skill and is indeed very talented. I think I preferred The Girl in the Gatehouse overall, however the back-and-forth teasing mystery of this book was brilliant. Plus I loved the intricate information on old-fashioned dancing, so gorgeous. :)

      Thanks for reading.

  • Birdie January 18, 2014 at 11:32 PM

    Yours is the first review I've seen of this book Rissi, but I'm sure soon it will be all over the blogosphere. I already have it on my Kindle and am looking forward to reading it very much, I love Julie Klassen! I think it will be interesting having a male as a main character, while in most Christian fiction written by female authors it's always the heroine who gets the most attention.

    • Rissi January 20, 2014 at 12:50 AM

      …this book is indeed making the blogosphere rounds, Birdie! Several reviews have popped up on my dashboard over the last few days and I'm looking forward to reading those I've not gotten around to.

      I'm glad you're excited about this novel – I really felt Alec played the prominent role and it was an interesting perspective. So different as you say, from most Christian fiction.

      Enjoy!

  • Mary Davis March 17, 2018 at 12:21 AM

    I LOVE this cover. Shame to hear the chemistry and romantic development isn't really all there as this is the highlight of a good Regency for me. I used to be all over the Regency romances a few years ago – but now I've been bitten by the fairytale bug, haha! ;)

    • Rissi March 19, 2018 at 8:25 PM

      Isn't it a stunner!! Love beautiful covers like this one. :)

      I do hope you enjoy this one if/when you read it, Mary. Nothing wrong with that "fairytale bug." It's one of my favorite genres, too.

  • […] BOOK REVIEW | ‘THE DANCING MASTER,’ BY JULIE KLASSEN […]

  • Alison Boss September 3, 2021 at 4:00 PM

    I picked up The Dancing Master at a resale shop. Historical Christian fiction is one of my favorite genres to read. Suspense is another favorite. It sounds like The Dancing Master has an intriguing combination of both of these genres. Thanks for your review, Rissi! I look forward to reading this book! :)

    • Rissi JC September 6, 2021 at 11:11 PM

      Hope you enjoy, Alison! It’s been SO long since I read this one. :)

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