The thrill of a Victorian romance meets the drama of the ballet world in Dancing on Air. Lisette has known only the world her aunt has allowed her to see between the seemingly endless dance practices and performances. It’s no surprise that the theatre is her home, but this ingenue is perfectly content in avoiding the limelight, and all that comes with it, until a certain young Lord catches her eye.
What makes the love story compelling is way that the poor, neglected Lisette finds solace and salvation in the arms of Lord Gainsworth in a Cinderella-like performance worthy of a ballet in itself. Both are concerned about picking a happy future with each other over the wishes of those around them. In Victorian England one could not easily choose the whims of the heart over the expectations of society.
While the lovebirds are caught up in deciding their fate there is a perfect storm brewing behind-the-scenes of the theatre. Lisette’s aunt and Lord De Vale have a long history and soon the stakes in their games become too high. Strange things are happening to the ballerinas and Lisette’s swift rise does not come without a price. The concluding chapters leave all in suspense and agony, hoping that the love of Lisette and Lord Gainsworth will prevail, even though few ballets have happy endings.
Overall I thought this was a carefully written story, weaving the past in subtly enough that it did not take you out of the present action, but did give you hints at the motives and backgrounds of some characters. The descriptions of the ballets and theatre were very vivid and sometimes made you feel as if you could smell the dusty curtains, feel the creaking floorboards or hear the roar of the audience. There is a good balance of intrigue, love and menace, making this a perfect book to curl up with on a winter’s evening.
I wish there had been a bit more development between Lisette and her theatre family, since she does reference her connection to them frequently. This is a short read, so I wasn’t expecting to read full bios on every character, but I would have liked to have had more details on the characters themselves. The villains seems to be given the most back-story, while I was hoping the even Lord Gainsworth would get to tell a few tales. Though the year is given at the start, we get few reminders that this is set in the Victorian era, or even London itself. This would have been a huge, bustling city, a few hints at that could have gone a long way in portraying the world beyond the theatre.
Short review: Quick afternoon read. Nice ballet details (for the appreciation of dancers). Kind of predictable.