Monday, May 21, 2012

Book Review: Dancing at the Chance by DeAnna Cameron

New York City in 1907 is a kingdom of endless possibilities for anyone who dares to dream. The Gilded Age has ended, and immigrants fill the bustling streets. The glamour of Broadway lures those who desire the limelight-but only a few are fortunate enough to thrive in the lights of a city that casts long, dark, and merciless shadows...
Pepper MacClair and her mother arrived penniless in New York thirteen years ago, and their fortune has not changed. A dancer of fluid grace and motion, Pepper is still only one chorus girl among many, struggling for an opportunity to prove herself worthy of something bigger.
For now, Pepper dances at The Chance, a rundown venue long past its prime. It is not only Pepper's workplace, where she has pushed her physical endurance to its limit, but also her home. And as the larger world changes around her and she is pulled into the intrigues of New York's elite, it is her last hope, not only to fulfill her dream, but to fulfill her heart.

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With the recent popularity of PBS's Downton Abbey and the reinvigorated interest in the Titanic, there are many like myself who have turned their attentions to the early 20th century.  NBC’s Smash may have also returned a bit of spotlight to the Broadway stage, with all its talent and behind the scenes drama. If your interests are similar, then I recommend to you DeAnna Cameron’s lovely Dancing at the Chance.  Set in New York City in 1907, it’s a pleasant blend of theater politics, performance and interpersonal relationships.

The main focus of the story is Pepper MacClair, a young dancer who has spent most of her life in the theater, who struggles with insecurities and the desire for love and approval. I enjoyed her development as a character, as she grew from a self-doubting performer, looking for love in the wrong place, to someone who knows where to find her true talent and love. She’s a plucky young lady, and I enjoyed her journey. The characters who surrounded her were interesting as well, from her love interest, to her best friend and the many players working at the fictional Chance theater in New York.

While at times I found the plot of Dancing at the Chance to be a bit easy to predict, I enjoyed Cameron’s writing and how she chose to play out her story lines.  The novel’s conclusion was very satisfying, sweet and even a tad surprising in some moments.  Her protagonists are likeable and her villains are detestable, which makes for enjoyable reading.

I also appreciated that the romantic aspects of the story were decidedly PG in nature. There are many similar authors who could have taken advantage of several scenes, spicing them up unnecessarily. This writer is talented enough that she can convey romance, passion and unrequited love in a way that is realistic without being overly titillating.  For that I offer my thanks to Ms. Cameron.

I’m no theater aficionado, but I have attended a handful of Broadway productions and have participated in several amateur musical theater performances over the years (the latter case being in the orchestra pit as a French horn player).  And while Vaudeville is no longer with us, I do have an appreciation and affection for this world.  Dancing at the Chance takes the reader right into the middle of it, with the on stage nerves, backstage politics and all the relational conundrums between cast members.  If you enjoy the theater, this novel will be a fun diversion for you. For those who are completely unfamiliar with this world, it will not only be an enjoyable story, but a bit of an education can be gleaned from Ms. Cameron’s work.

I offer my applause and a “brava” to author DeAnna Cameron. Vaudeville may have been replaced with more modern productions, but in Dancing at the Chance, it endures and glitters upon this literary stage. Take a seat in the audience, and prepare to enjoy the show!

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Stop by DeAnna Cameron's Website for lots of great Dancing at the Chance content and enter her monthly drawing!

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  1. This sounds excellent! Being "the chanteuse" (lol) I love stories about the entertainment industry in general new or old. Vaudeville must have just been amazing for both the performers and audience. Toady I think we lose a little bit of the magic due to being so pumped with all of the entertainment sources out there now like TV,radio,internet etc. Of course it's a good thing but imagine not really see anyone perform until you went to a vaudeville show. It would be that much more amazing. I even like those old Hollywood movies that the story is based in vaudeville.

  2. thanks for the awesome review, i have to add this to my to read list!!

  3. Thanks for this review, Laura. I'm adding this to my summer reading list.

  4. Glad the book is making its way onto some new TBR lists!



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