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The Next Step in the Dance [Paperback]

Tim Gautreaux
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

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Book Description

20 Jun 2005
Paul Thibodeaux is a handsome, laid-back young man married to Colette, the most beautiful woman in the small Louisiana town where they grew up. For Paul, life is complete, with a wife he loves, machines to repair, and a lively local dance hall. But Colette wants more, and when she sets off for California in search of a better life, Paul follows her there and back, waiting to see if she'll change her mind about him and their life together. How they come to realize the importance of their marriage makes for a novel that is at once an adventure story, a love story, and an elegiac portrait of a place and a culture rarely explored in contemporary fiction.

Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Sceptre; New Ed edition (20 Jun 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340834544
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340834541
  • Product Dimensions: 2.1 x 12.8 x 19.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 231,039 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


[It] may tell an old, old story - that it is only when you are in danger of losing someone that you begin truly to appreciate them - but it has rarely been told so well ... the depiction of his native landscape, with its Spanish moss and snapping turtles, its "white heat and green humidity" is superb. (Mark Sanderson, Sunday Telegraph)

Impressive ... thoroughly gripping (Big Issue)

A mighty first novel, told with cinematic grip . . . Gautreaux himself takes the next step in the moody, sweet dance of southern literature. (GQ)

[It] holds you snug and won't let go (Entertainment Weekly)

Marries the power of a first novel with the wisdom of a second . . . The rippingest novel of the year, with writing that dances and swells like a jitterbug on a hot skillet. (Philadelphia Enquirer)

Book Description

The mesmerising new novel from the acclaimed author of THE CLEARING - 'An extraordinary novel, one of the best I've read in years' Annie Proulx

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved this book. 5 Dec 1998
By A Customer
While browsing through the new-fiction shelf at my local library, I stumbled across a familiar name...Tim Gautreaux. He was one of my college professors at SLU in Hammond, Louisiana, so I checked out the book and spent two wonderful nights "going home". Having been raised in the most southeastern part of Louisiana, and being the only daughter of a 100% certified cajun man born and raised in southeastern Louisiana, this book paints the picture of cajun Louisiana with glorious highs and lows. The struggle for life, love and self-esteem from the two main characters had me laughing, crying and feeling homesick all at the same time. Well done, Dr. Gautreaux!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Does not put a foot wrong 20 Dec 2009
By Alexander Bryce TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
OK i am a fan of Mr.Gautreaux[ see my reviews of The Missing and The Clearing },so I finally read this his first novel as one already converted to one of the brightest, contemporary, American writers for some time.
Again set in the sweltering Louisiana swamps of the recent past , it is a page turner there is no doubt, but it does not sacrifice authenticity or vivid descriptive passages to get the story told. And what a story. It's rough and tough; it's tender and sad and there is even a fair bit of humor.
When Collette leaves the small time, everyone knows your business Tiger Island for big time, anonymous L A it is hard to believe the contrast of lifestyle between the two communities in the same country at the same time. She is for me the heroine of the piece. She is clever, brave, resourceful and lets not forget beautiful. Paul is a decent, hard working good guy, if only he didn't love to hit the dance halls and after a few beers anyone who messed with him. This is not a lovey dovey, mamby pamby romance. It is a very believable raw tale of the ups and downs in a hot relationship doomed to fail. Or sure to succeed? The answer is revealed after a tense climax when the friends and family in this backwater little town refuse to give up one their own to the greater forces of the elements. There are many heroes, but none better than Collette.
The signs of future great work are all there. A must read book.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Before dismissing the reader from VA... 13 Aug 1999
By A Customer
I thought I was the only one who hated this book, and I suppose I'm glad that I'm not. Anyway, I read this book (or tried anyway) a few months back, and hated it. I hated it for several reasons, but foremost because it seems such a waste. Mr. Gautreaux seems like a fine fellow, a smart guy, a writer of some talent and with something to say. Unfortunately, this ain't the book he's saying anything with. But let's figure out what he is saying. That love and life are like dances? Ah, and my, how those Cajuns love to dance. (Oui, cher!) That everyone needs to grow up? (Oui, cher!) Thanks, Tim for that memo. I've been living in a cave for a number of years and hadn't caught up with those recent developments in the human condition.
There are moments and descriptions that feel right, are very bright in fact, but everything else seems as if it were written by someone who sees the world through the gauzy eyes of a romantic. I don't think that's necessarily bad; it's just not the reality I see when I visit Louisiana or when I think about love. Louisiana to me is a poverty-blighted, backward place rife with crooks, crime and rot. But that's from someone who doesn't romanticize poverty for the sake of assuaging the middle class book buyers' sensibilities and making sure the status quo stays status quo. (And as for love--well, yes, it's like a dance. At times a mosh pit, at others a Cajun waltz. Jeez, that's ALL you have to say about love?)
Which leads me to my next point. This book is very, very commercial. No hard edges. No rough spots. No shaking any cages.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent! 12 Aug 1999
By A Customer
This was a wonderful book; I absolutely loved it. Everything was great: the settings, the dialogue, the story, and the characters. I wish the book had gone on longer; Mr. Gautreaux could easily write a sequel with these engaging characters and exotic milieu. The reader from Virginia who gave this novel one star is utterly wrong.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Small town life in Louisiana 12 Mar 2012
Paul and Colette are a young married couple living in a Louisiana backwater, but maybe they married too young?

Working in the small local bank, Colette feels stifled by everything. Paul isn't helping - he can't seem to see much beyond his machines and the local bars. So she serves him separation papers and leaves - off to Los Angeles to see what the big city can offer her.

Shocked into action, Paul follows her. Separately, they find that the city holds both opportunity and money - but that it comes at a price. Separately, both find that they are asked to 'sell their souls' and both refuse - and so back they go, separately, to a small town that has gone downhill since they left, the oil companies having departed, their money disappearing with them. How are they now going to make a living?

It was at this point that I felt that the book began to take off - Colette plumbs the depth of her resources to find ways to bring money in, and so she is out on small boats, catching water rat and catfish. There are more than a few hairy moments, when either her life or Paul's hangs in the balance, and gradually, they begin to grow up, find out what is important in life and find their way back towards each other.

After a slow start, I found myself really enjoying this story, which is as much about small town life in Louisiana as it is about Paul and Colette. Highly recommended.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Tasty Louisiana Gumbo
An unexpected treat of a novel, full of vivid local flavour with its setting on a bayou in deepest Louisiana. Read more
Published 3 days ago by indigo
5.0 out of 5 stars Bayou tapestry
A thoroughly entertaining read.Very atmospheric.Great characters who you sympathised with and cared about from beginning to end. Read more
Published 6 months ago by henrymiller the second
4.0 out of 5 stars where there's a will there's a way
This book is definitely worth reading - a tale of human endurance - when all seems lost - finding family members lost in the storm, surviving a nasty work accident, when there are... Read more
Published 21 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars perplexed
i am perplexed by the negative reviews for this work, i have read some bad books in my time and this is not one of them. Read more
Published on 7 Sep 2011 by unclestaveley
5.0 out of 5 stars Tim Gautreaux
I highly recommend Tim Gautreaux' books. I have now read all three of his novels. Unfortunately I started with his latest book The Missing and read the three novels 'backwards' in... Read more
Published on 30 April 2010 by Catherine
3.0 out of 5 stars Lots of Push and Pull
Colette Thibodeaux knows what she wants from life. She's fed up of living in a Louisiana backwoods town with a husband who actually likes his job as a low paid machinist in a local... Read more
Published on 7 Sep 2009 by Eileen Shaw
5.0 out of 5 stars You can only love it or hate - nothing else!
I was interested to see the contrasting views on this book - I myself found the writing completely involving, and can't help wondering if the more depressing side of life portrayed... Read more
Published on 22 Jan 2000
1.0 out of 5 stars I am pained by this book
Oh, Boy. What tree died for this work. I just don't get it. I agree with Texas and Virginia. Can not recommend.
Published on 24 Aug 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful book with fascinating local color!
Taking place in a small Louisiana town, the author writes so well, you can see the characters, surroundings and events with incredible clarity. I loved it. Read more
Published on 17 Aug 1999
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