Dance while you can (by Susan Lewis)

I've read a few of Susan Lewis's books in the past couple of years or so. I love her writing - I was particularly taken with her autobiography, 'Just One More Day', which I read in January 2009.

This book is the story of a forbidden, but passionate romance. Elizabeth, junior matron at a boys' private school, is surprisingly attractive.. and becomes a little too friendly with one of the older boys. She is only four years older than he is, but relatives and colleagues disapprove strongly, and they are forced to part.

Alexander, the young man concerned, tries to forget his first love, first at university, and then in London high society, with a string of other women. Elizabeth, too, tries to move on with her life. But neither can forget the other, and both wonder if, some day, they might meet again.

The writing in this novel is amazing, the pace fast, the scenarios - including some unlikely and obsessive crimes, with some shocking scenes - surprisingly believable. I found it difficult to put this book down once I had got a way into it; there are sections which alternate between Elizabeth and Alexander's viewpoints, both told in the first person, in a style almost reminiscent of Susan Howatch at times.

There was rather more bad language than I'm comfortable with in this book, but it's par for the course with women's fiction these days, and none of it was really inappropriate.

What badly let the book down, in my opinion, was two overly explicit and entirely unnecessary scenes of intimacy early in the book. They did not fit with the otherwise excellent style, and (thankfully) later bedroom scenes in the book were merely implied, or mentioned in passing.

Still, I would rate the book highly and recommend it to anyone who doesn't mind a couple of 'purple' passages.

Note that this book can often be found second-hand, and is also available in Kindle form on both sides of the Atlantic.

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 3rd October 2011

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