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The Next Step in the Dance [Paperback]

Tim Gautreaux
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 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: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 175,760 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 )

About the Author

Born and raised in Louisiana, Tim Gautreaux has taught fiction for many years and lives with his family in Hammond. His work has appeared in Harper’s, the Atlantic Monthly, GQ, Zoetrope, Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards, and Best American Short Stories. His first novel, The Next Step in the Dance, won the 1999 SEBA Book Award, and he has also published two collections of short fiction. THE CLEARING, his second, was published in the US and UK in 2003.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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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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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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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lots of Push and Pull 7 Sep 2009
By Eileen Shaw TOP 1000 REVIEWER
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 factory, and she makes up her mind to go to California, leaving behind elderly parents and a dumb-struck husband. She can hardly believe her eyes when she finds that he's followed her. But Paul's not a dumb as she thinks - behind that rather slow, sleepily handsome exterior, there lurks a heart of gold. Yes, the idiot is actually deeply in love with her.
This well-paced, witty and often adventurously thrilling story is more than just your usual marriage-on-the-rocks package. It zings along on wings of pure action and narrative, full of push and pull, with both sides of the story given their full due. It also chronicles a way of life, with some heart-stopping moments, such as Paul's life being threatened in a particularly horrible way, a shot-gun tournament that Colette wins after catching on to how it has been fixed, and a treacherous storm aboard a fishing boat. The narrative is easier with being becalmed back in Louisiana, and that's where most of the story takes place, after a chastened Colette returns from her bank job, out on her ear because she refuses to sleep with her boss. Doggedly determined, Paul comes home too.
The Next Step is a really good read with a thoroughly satisfying ending.
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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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
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 2 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 16 months ago by aragorn17
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
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
1.0 out of 5 stars Before dismissing the reader from VA...
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. Read more
Published on 13 Aug 1999
1.0 out of 5 stars Wouldn't even make a BAD made-for-TV movie !!
This is a horrible book - bad plot, bad characters, bad story, bad language. It is not even worth the paper it is printed on. It wouldn't even make a BAD made-for-TV movie !!
Published on 3 Aug 1999
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