26 Jan 2018

Review: Swan Song


'' The plan was to come to London, connect sufficiently with my mother to move past the grief that's been choking me, and then say a final farewell to London and go home -strong, centred, focused on a life beyond dance. ''

★★★★☆

From Goodreads:
LOVE AND LONGING IN THE BRIGHT LIGHTS OF LONDON
When iconic ballerina Beatrice Duvall died, a nation mourned – and a legacy was born. Sixteen years later, her daughter Ava comes to London to take part in a high-profile tribute to Beatrice, and to learn about the mother she never knew.
There’s just one snag: the tribute is a ballet, Swan Lake. Which is infinitely painful for Ava, because she can’t dance. Won’t dance. Not since she quit the Royal Ballet School last year and walked away from everything that defined her.
But this is London, colourful and crazy, and with actor Seb at her side, there’s so much to discover. Like Theatreland razzmatazz and rooftop picnics and flamingo parties. And a whole load of truths Ava never knew about her mother – and herself.
When the time comes to take the stage, will Ava step out of the shadow cast by her mother’s pedestal? And who will be waiting for her there, in the bright lights?
A coming-of-age novel about family and first love, in the city of hopes and dreams.  

The classic problem: Will the child of a famous dancer live up to her parents? Ava doesn't want to. She didn't get to know her mother before she died. She refuses to dance anymore, and now she is invited back to take part in the tribute the Ballet company is paying for her mother's memory.
There just was The Something in this book. You know what I mean if you have found in some book.

Ava travels back to Kent, closer to the place where she trained in The Royal Ballet School before giving it up. She is determined to connect herself with her late mother and combs through the streets and Art galleries of London to find a connection to her.

There are many secrets in the book, most of them jump at you out of the blue, unexpected, without any foreshadowing. And all of the truths are revealed at the right times to keep the plot moving forward.

Ava's character is very true to her upbringing. She is a dancer and will always be, she will try to convince you that she is done with dance but don't believe her. If you have familiarized yourself with anything to do with the stereotypes surrounding dancers, especially ballet dancers, you know they are accustomed to strict diets and rehearsal schedules. Those two are what betray Ava at every turn, she says she is over dance, but still can't stop living like a dancer.

Ladies, and Gents, the moment you've been waiting for: Sebastian. Seb, the quite mysterious young man whose motives are unknown. The entire character is a bit of a mystery until one truth is revealed. And even if we all want to believe that true gentlemen still exist in this era we know it's not true. Sebastian's actions make you believe otherwise, and he makes you understand that you can shine even if you are not standing centre-stage. Seb's role in Ava's story is too crucial even though he is a bit of a question mark until about the mid part of the book.

All in all, you can not not like this book. It draws you in from page one and keeps you between the pages until the last one is turned. London is captivating, but the picture Charlotte Wilson has painted on its streets is even more beautiful. You have to keep your eyes open until the curtain has fallen after the last act.

'' ''Benches with views,'' I say, ''that's where it's at.'' ''

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