Book Review

The Girl from the Paradise Ballroom by Alison Love

This book will be released April 19.

Set between 1937 and 1947, this is a historic novel that artfully incorporates truthful accounts of the Second World War as a backdrop to interweaving love stories. Not a romance in terms of chick flick-esque delightful endings, instead it portrays believable strain and heartache as well as passion and love.

At first the book suffers from an overwhelming amount of description and detail that almost seems to drown out the narrative. The first few chapters become flighty because of this; details are given too much focus and the characters are never followed long enough to get an idea of who they are and why we are supposed to be interested in them. However by six chapters in, author Alison Love starts to fill in the backgrounds of each of our main characters — Antonio, Olivia, Bernard and Filomena — the tale she tells becomes beautifully crafted as we start to see more emotions and less mindless detail. Love builds the atmosphere of each scene as she builds the connections between the protagonists, using history to give the story depth.

Love brings us to question passion, romance and love and the certainty of forever and promises. Antonio faces uncertainty in his marriage when he comes to remember it was in fact arranged. What happens when someone you thought loved you did nothing other than obey their family’s orders?

“Had they been – not false, of course not false – but exaggerated, designed to flatter his vanity?”

The author weaves the story through layers of secrets connecting each of the characters together. From Antonio’s first meeting with Olivia, to her quick marriage with Bernard. Bernard’s first time listening to Antonio’s singing, and his eventual time spent with Antonio’s sister Filomena. Each person tells their own part of a wider story that has tears, statements of ardour and acceptance of fate.

Love transitions the book from a political based history into a love story smoothly, and lays the groundwork for a sequel on what will happen next to the broken family that wishes to mend itself.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

 

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