Sunday, January 10, 2016

Review: When the Music Stops: Dance On by Paddy Eger

When the Music Stops: Dance On (Ballet Trilogy, Book #2)
by Paddy Eger
Release Date: March 3rd 2015
2015 Tendril Press
Softcover Edition; 260 Pages
ISBN: 978-0-9858933-7-8
Genre: Fiction / Historical
Source: Review copy from author

3.5 / 5 Stars

Tired and broken, she returns to her childhood home with ‘personal baggage’ from her too short experience with the Intermountain Ballet Company. Marta attempts to choreograph her future to heal not only her body, but also her memories and emotions to move her life forward. As she finds a job to support herself, her dance and personal life take unexpected and sometimes harrowing turns. Will she be able to find a deeper well of strength to meet these new challenges of adulthood head-on? Which suitor will steal her heart?

My Thoughts 
When the Music Stops continues Marta's journey as she recovers from a devastating ankle injury and makes some difficult choices in her life, both in her personal life and in her professional life.  I actually enjoyed this book a bit more than the first one as I found Marta to be much more likable and not quite as whiny and self-indulgent.

First of all, I loved the ballet scenes in this novel. It's not a book about a professional ballet company however, it's about Marta's return to her hometown and her recovery and for her to do this, she had to return to her roots, including the dance studio where she trained.  At first, Marta appeared to be suffering from a bout of depression although the book didn't quite come out and use the terminology. This was the fifties though, so a lot of the psychological recovery would not have been quite the same way as it would today.  Today, Marta would have had a whole team in her recovery process, but back then, she was sort of left to fend for herself and I definitely felt a lot of sympathy for her situation.  Slowly, she began to get involved in the community as she realized she needed a way to support herself and as she became more involved, she slowly began to heal.  While Marta definitely had her moments, she didn't quite have that selfish attitude from the first book so I found her to be much more interesting and likable.  It's not that she didn't make poor choices; she was after all, only eighteen and nineteen years old throughout the novel. Who at that age hasn't made poor choices and then had to deal with the consequences?

I definitely liked Marta's adult dance class members and wished they were more prominent in the story.  The fifties was such an interesting time period and women were becoming much more independent concerning their needs and desires, so exercise classes were becoming a lot more popular.  I really liked the portrayal of women in this book as they were shown to be quite independent, but with that fifties attitude where manners and behaviour were still highly stressed and valued quite highly. And one's reputation was still very important.  Just the simple things, like putting on lipstick for dance practice, made me smile.  Or how using someone's first name would make Marta's mother frown, especially if it was Marta.  

My biggest problem with this story was Marta's love interest Steve.  While he was tolerable in the first novel, I didn't particularly like him in this one.  I found him pushy and demanding, constantly asking Marta to marry him, even when she told him she needed time and space to figure out what she was going to do professionally. And to me, he showed a lot of immaturity by turning the arguments back in her face and blaming her problems for her reluctance to commit.  To be honest, I wanted Marta to dump him and look for someone else, and there were others who were more interesting.  I just felt he was controlling and way too needy.  It actually turned me off the romance in this novel and I found myself skimming through their scenes, looking forward to the ballet scenes again.  

When the Music Stops would have been quite enjoyable if not for Marta's relationship with Steve as I found him to be quite controlling and immature.  I really did enjoy Marta's personal and professional development in this one though, and thought the author did a great job showing the difficulty of recovering from a bad injury and having to re-examine one's choices in life.  I was disappointed to see so little of Lynne in this one although the third book is supposed to be about her adventure in France so that should be quite interesting. I thought the novel was quite engaging, but for those who are looking for a lot of action, you will not find that in here; it's a coming-of-age story about a girl who discovers how to move on with her life when something tragic occurs.