Book Review

Pretending to Dance – Diane Chamberlain

Diane Chamberlain hits the sweet spot between literary and women’s fiction in her novels and this one is a prime example. The story follows Molly, a lawyer in California who is trying to adopt a child, with alternating chapters taking us back to her teenage years in rural North Carolina, where she lived with her beloved psychotherapist father, her devoted yet slightly aloof mother, and a series of relatives and close friends living in the same close-knit family compound.  When her father, who suffered from MS, died under suspicious circumstances, Molly rejected her family and fled to boarding school.  Now she must attempt to reconcile the events of that fateful time and the secrets her family kept hidden from her.

A spellbinding tale of a young girl’s coming-of-age set against the backdrop of a complex series of inter-relationships and a past that is not what it seems, this novel hits all the right notes: an appealing heroine, a theme about open adoption and its complications, well-developed and intriguing secondary characters, and a series of lies and half-truths that eventually are revealed as Molly digs deeper in order to understand her past and how it affects her today.

A favorite passage:  “My past is in my way, … a roadblock, holding me back, keeping me from moving forward. I have no idea how to make it go away.”