Book Review: The First Dance by Catherine Law

Synopsis

A spellbinding tale of mysteries and secrets and a love that will last forever

1924

The First World War is over and eleven-year-old Alexa is growing up on the idyllic Cornish coast with her best friend Harvey. But she soon discovers there are secrets at the heart of her family that have been hidden for years. 

1931

Alexa flees Cornwall for the intoxicating city of Venice. But her new glamorous life is not what she hoped for and, with dark shadows closing in on her, Alexa will question everything she thought she wanted . .

Publication Date: 22nd March 2016

This is a story about grief, how it changes you, how it can tear people apart and eventually bring them together. If you are looking for a mystery this isn’t one, there no hidden secret to be unravelled, no secret past to be explored. Any hint of mystery is explained away pretty early in the book, before you would even think to ask the question you know the answer. This book was as engrossing as it was depressing but I do think the synopsis is very misleading.

I immediately felt bad for and empathised with the main character Alexa, she’s told to be quiet and sit still and is never allowed to express herself, which leads her to shut herself off from the world. She feels like a stranger in her own life, and everyone around her doesn’t really take the time to understand her. When she finally flees Cornwall in my view its perfectly understandable as to why she makes this choice. Some of the choices she makes later are questionable but I guess this is a story about a girl coming of age and finding out what she wants in the world so she is allowed to make questionable decisions.

I loved the descriptions in this book, particularly of not just the majestic landscapes and enchanting cities but also the little things like the buttons in the box. The characters for me were a bit lacking particularly Sarah was very obviously the infatuated poor girl hopelessly in love with the local rich boy who has eyes for someone else. At one point I felt like I was reading Tess of the d’Urbervilles when Guy was introduced, he was very clearly the bad guy love interest who was going to teach Alexa a difficult life lesson.

I think the depressing nature of this book was what let it down for me in the end. I’m not against a heart wrenching story but I felt it was a bit much for me as far as this book was concerned. There was so much grief and sadness from beginning, middle and end and I think it definitely took away from my enjoyment. I would say this book is a slightly predictable story of a girl learning to deal with grief and the choices that she makes but it lacked the feel of a romance.

DISCLAIMER: I was given this eARC by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Rating: 3/5 stars

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