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Dancing Backwards Hardcover – 25 Jun 2009

3.9 out of 5 stars 60 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate; First Edition edition (25 Jun. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007143141
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007143146
  • Product Dimensions: 14.3 x 2.7 x 21.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 374,645 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

‘“Dancing Backwards” is a delightful read – comic, sad, tender and utterly engrossing.’ Lisa O’Kelly, Observer

‘Salley Vickers has a gift for making the most unlikely settings for fiction absolutely compelling…peerless story telling.’ Independent

‘Packs a surprising emotional and intellectual punch….a wonderfully satisfying, richly rewarding journey for the reader.’ The Times

‘This novel’s central triumph is its portrait of a heroine steadily – and with immense hope – working through the dramas of her quietly difficult life…that is perhaps Vickers’s most appealing characteristic: her essential optimism.’ Sunday Telegraph

‘An elegant waltz through a personal history littered with betrayal and regret, crisply and carefully told.’ Guardian

'Graceful and absorbing … nobody can dig down into the shrouded recesses of the human heart quite as forensically as [Vickers] does.' Elizabeth Buchan, Sunday Times

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

"Salley Vickers' marvellous new novel, 'Dancing Backwards'...is a book about giving and taking and about the kindnesses we are capable of doing one another; it's also shot through with her typical brand of subtle humour and thinking characters who aren't afraid to be fully-formed."

John Burnside, Scotland on Sunday

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is a brilliantly written story of Violet (Vi) Hetherington and a serious life error she made as a young woman, which is recalled as she crosses the ocean to visit the friend she betrayed. The novel unfolds in characteristic Vickers' style - spare, dry, acutely observed and often very funny,as well as poignant and frequently painful. The back story takes place in the sixties, when as a shy young student, convinced of her own insignificance, Vi meets Edwin, her teacher of literature who encourages her to write and they become firm friends. But another friend of Edwin arrives, a serpent in this garden of Eden, and the resulting catastrophe causes Vi to leave her life as a sucessful poet and settle for a safe but drab marriage. We feel both for the young, inexperienced Vi and her older, more melancholy self, whose shrewd eye appraises her fellow passengers but who also becomes, if unwillingly at first, engaged in their lives. Oh, and she learns to dance, which she is surprisingly good at, which leads to another plot theme. What is so enjoyable about this, as with all Vickers's novels, is that her acute observations and insights are never at the expense of her characters, or her readers. She has a wise and compassionate view of humanity, as befits her psychological background, but she is also huge fun. A great book to take on holiday as well as a serious novel.
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Format: Hardcover
I am sure that readers who loved Salley Vickers' marvellous first novel MISS GARNET'S ANGEL will, as I did, relish this deceptively entertaining new book. A novel that is such an easy pleasure to read, yet has such wit and wisdom distilled into it, is a rarity and I think only the late Penelope Fitzgerald managed it as seemingly effortlesly as Salley Vickers. This is a book about roads not taken, lives not lived and how it is never too late to hope or to change. It is profoundly moving and ultimately joyous. It also makes one realize how very very hard it is to find time, in the ordinary run of things, to meditate on one's life and maybe that is the advantage of an ocean cruise (the setting for the book). One is literally set adrift. Here it works as a perfect crucible for the protagonist's understanding of how she made such self-destructive choices. It is a book that continues to resonate long after
it is finished.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Violet, once divorced and once widowed, is on a sea-journey from England to America, planning to meet again a third man, Edwin, with whom she had once had a strong but Platonic friendship. The book alternates between, on the one hand, her encounters with a large cast of her fellow passengers and members of the crew and, on the other, her memories of her past life and relationships. She recalls the several mistakes she has made, each time defying an inner voice which had told her not to make them.

The book is an easy and pleasant read; the main characters are suitably complicated; but I miss the depth of the author's earlier novels.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I had really enjoyed Miss Garnet's Angel and found this one slightly disappointing, in comparison. While being beautifully written, it failed to capture my interest entirely, lacking the depth and the pathos of the Miss Garnet's angel (or perhaps one cannot compare Venice to a ship, as a setting). I was left slightly dissatisfied with the ending and in general it was below my expectations. Worth reading nonetheless.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a stunning novel; beautifully written, wise and immensely entertaining. This may be Salley Vickers' best yet. Of her previous novels Dancing Backwards perhaps has most in common with Miss Garnet's Angel, and like that novel has as its protagonist a woman of a certain age at a crossroads in her life. As in all Vickers' novels something happens that is transfiguring and enlarging. What more can we ask of a work of art?
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A captivating, bittersweet story beautifully told. Miss Vickers has the talent of making you identify with her main character. It is about a lady of a certain age recently widowed going on a voyage to New York and of the people she meets on board. She takes up ballroom dancing, hears confidences, deals with a pleasant young con man and comes to terms with her own demons. She is a rather dispassionate woman who cares rather too much for others who use it to her disadvantage but at the end you realise she is not an unfulfilled unhappy woman but rather one comfortable with who and what she is. She will always bend backwards to please others and yet still remain upright being true to herself. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and the sea voyage with Violet.
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Format: Hardcover
I have been waiting impatiently for a new Salley Vickers novel and so devoured this immediately. However, I have since introduced it to our book group to unanimously good reviews. We agree that it has her characteristic lightness of touch overlaying a profound insight, like the sea cruise upon which its heroine, Violet, embarks. That Violet should be a poet makes this book especially intruiging, since it deals with the nature of literature and the comic and tragic form. This novel is essentially comic in the sense of Shakespearian comedy - it ends with harmony as opposed to dischord - but its journey reveals a much deeper tragedy lying beneath.
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