'A book set in Africa'
I received this copy as an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The current publication date is the 2nd October 2018.
Fiona Garvey, ballet dancer and new college graduate, is desperate to escape her sister’s betrayal and a failed relationship. Vowing to restart as far from home as possible, she accepts a two-year teaching position with the Peace Corps in Africa. It’s a role she’s sure she can perform. But in no time, Fiona realizes she’s traded her problems in Omaha for bigger ones in Gabon, a country as beautiful as it is filled with contradictions.
Emotionally derailed by Christophe, a charismatic and privileged Gabonese man who can teach her to let go of her inhibitions but can’t commit to anything more, threatened by an overly familiar student with a menacing fixation on her, and drawn into the compelling but potentially dangerous local dance ceremonies, Fiona finds herself at increasing risk. And when matters come to a shocking head, she must reach inside herself, find her dancer’s power, and fight back.
Terez Mertes Rose is the author of the Ballet Theatre Chronicles, books I haven't had a chance to read but have recently stumbled across on various platforms. When given a chance to read her latest release, ‘A Dancer’s Guide To Africa,’ I wondered how much dance would play a part in the story. I don’t mind dance, but I'm not enthusiastic about it, too much dance talk would bore me to death.
I'm happy to report that even though ballet and other forms of dance make an appearance, it doesn’t take over. The story stays centered around the main characters and their experience as members of the Peace Corps.
When mentioned, Terez Mertes Rose Speaks of ballet with a personal passion. The way she describes the technical moves, the deep feelings, and emotions that come from dace and how taxing it is on the body makes it quite clear that ballet was at some point a huge part of her life.
I'm also curious about her knowledge of Africa. I would love to hear more because the way she describes it in the book is exquisite. Every detail enticed me to start investigating the area she spoke of, so I googled my heart out trying to learn more.
My most hated character would have to be Christophe. I hated the way he treated Fiona; I wanted to punch him in the face. I loved Fiona; she was far from being a prissy ballerina princess. I found her to be strong, determined and resilient.
Being Australian I know nothing about the Peace Corps but Terez Mertes Rose certainly did a fantastic job describing it in detail. This novel gives you a real understanding of the dangers, hardships, conditions, and struggles that these volunteers could potentially go through being stationed in a foreign country.
There is a strong feeling of mysticism which comes from the traditions and ceremonies of the African people. I could hear the drums, feel the dirt between my toes and sense the spirituality as the African dancers summoned the ancestors. I found it fascinating.
There is a slight paranormal element within the story which I'm not sure I enjoyed. I'm still undecided. It felt far-fetched and a bit out of place.
Romance does make an appearance but not as much as I would have liked. Fiona briefly speaks of a past broken relationship, also involving her sister, but doesn't dive deep into the nitty-gritty. Some great conflict could have played out between her and her sister, showing how the betrail affected or impacted current relationships.
Multiple sections felt like something big could be about to happen, but it didn’t. It was a bit underwhelming.
Writing style flowed well, was slightly wordy but overall an enjoyable read. I would absolutely read future works by Terez Mertes Rose.
Four stars from me
Have you read a book set in Africa?
What did you choose and why?
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