I have to admit that I did NOT want to like Dancing on Glass, Pamela Bennings Ewen’s forthcoming novel. The subject matter-an abusive relationship-is definitely not uplifting!
This is author Pamela Ewen’s third novel. I reviewed her last book, Secret of the Shroud, last fall. A former lawyer, Ms. Ewen practiced law for 25 years before turning to writing, following in the footsteps of relatives like James Lee Burke. She lives in Mandeville, Louisiana.
Dancing on Glass tells the story of Amalise Catoir, a young law student in New Orleans in 1974. She meets a charming, magnetic artist named Phillip and becomes involved with him, eventually marrying him. Although smart and successful, Amalise is naive and trusting, overlooking numerous warning signs about Phillip and his strange, dark, controlling behavior. Her choices eventually lead to extreme danger, with an edge-of-your-seat ending.
I sat down with this book reluctantly. I wasn’t fond of the setting or the subject. To my surprise, I found myself drawn in. The story is beautifully written. The setting is exquisitely portrayed…it’s obvious that the author is quite familiar with it! The main characters are vivid and realistic. I alternated between liking Amalise, and wanting to knock her upside the head for not seeing the blatant signs of danger in Phillip’s behavior and actions. She struck me as incredibly naive and trusting. Her struggle to reconcile her actions with her childhood faith is realistic. Her faith is portrayed as strong, but she appears to be very isolated in it. The description of her experiences in law school and later, as a young associate, seem genuine, aided, I’m sure, by the author’s personal experience. Phillip is easy to detest…a real snake. His possessiveness right from the very start is disturbing. His behavior sets off all kinds of alarm bells. On the other hand, Amalise’s dear childhood friend, Jude, is incredibly sympathetic and likable. How on earth she could have been attracted to Phillip when she had Jude to compare him to is beyond me! The book’s conclusion is a true nail-biter, worthy of any Grisham novel! I can’t say much without giving something away, so I’ll leave it at that.
Dancing on Glass is a deftly written, haunting novel on a very difficult subject. I was absorbed despite myself. It’s definitely not a lighthearted, uplifting story. Be prepared for frustration and tense moments. If you’re looking for something relaxing, this isn’t the book for you. But if you enjoy romantic thrillers, storylines that tackle difficult topics like abuse, and don’t insist on fairytale endings, you’ll enjoy Dancing on Glass.
Dancing on Glass releases on August 1st. Thanks so much to B&H Publishing for the advance review copy.