Monday, 29 September 2014

"One Last Dance" by Judith Lennox. Guest review from Emma Crowley



One Last Dance is the gripping new novel from Judith Lennox. This is a family saga spanning three generations beginning during World War One and continuing right up until the early 1970’s. At over 500 pages this is quite a long book but it does give the author ample time to develop most of the characters and for the reader to follow the ups and downs of the family. I love historical fiction novels and this certainly did not disappoint. Judith Lennox writes really well and the story is full of varied characters some you will love and others you will just despise. The plot progresses at just the right pace without the reader becoming bored and the author made the transition from one section to the next appear seamless. Ultimately this is a story of love, betrayal, sibling rivalry, power and forgiveness and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

In the first half of the novel the story focuses on the Langdon sisters- Esme and Camilla they are poles apart in every way and this is reflected throughout the book. Camilla is ruthless and always wants what isn’t hers and is determined to achieve this even though her methods may hurt others. Esme is the younger sister, shy and quiet she yearns for the simple things in life and to be loved by someone special. Onto the scene arrives Devlin Reddaway, he has returned wounded from World War One and soon catches the eye of Camilla, falling deep in love and wanting to marry her. But early on Camilla shows her nasty side and agrees to marry another man despite her promises to Devlin. Needing a woman to help restore and run his crumbling ancestral home Rosindell House, Devlin turns to Esme and soon they are married. Esme’s love and affection for Devlin is never fully returned once they are married, it really frustrated me that Esme would marry knowing full well that her husband to be couldn’t return the love she felt. Surely that is the point of marriage to experience love and a happy relationship together?

Esme’s marriage gets off to a rocky start and doesn’t really get much better even though she goes on to have two children. Everything is built upon a lie and Camilla’s hold is felt for many years to come. I really didn’t like Camilla, she came across as evil, vain, self-centred and basically just out to ensnare a rich man who would keep her in the way she had become accustomed to. Her actions had far reaching consequences for the generations to come and it just highlighted how one lie can change the fortunate of everyone so dramatically.
 Rosindell House is a character in itself throughout the novel, it seems to have an unnatural hold over all its occupants and people never really seem happy there. It is the main place where many of the key events are played out during the course of the book, it offers some sort of solace for Esme but also later in the novel a refuge for Coral as she tries to unravel the past and contemplate her future. Later generations always seem drawn to Rosindell House and each new section of the book introduced us to new characters  and they all one way or another became interconnected with the house. At one point there were numerous characters being introduced and it did become a bit difficult to remember who was going out with who and how they were all connected. Especially in the final sections of the book it did appear to be slightly rushed as if after 500 pages the author needed to tie up loose ends quickly. We never really got to know enough about Stephen (Esme’s grandson) and Coral ( Camilla’s granddaughter) and therefore I wasn’t too pushed as to how their story ended.

Overall a great read that I would highly recommend. This book is long enough to spend several hours curled up on the couch during cold winter nights as you become lost in the world of Rosindell House and its inhabitants. With such vivid descriptions I felt I was really there with each character and was eager to see how events would unfold and connections would be made. Judith Lennox has produced another terrific novel and I can’t wait to read her next offering.

Many thanks to Margaret for sending me this to review.


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