Thomas Dunne Books
St. Martins Press
Dancing In a Distant Place by Isla Dewar
A well written and intelligent novel about a female teacher who throws herself into a new life in a small Scottish village and has to make huge adjustments after the death of her husband. This is not a sentimental tale, the story is told with practicality and wit.
When Iris arrives in her new Highland community of Green Cairns, she’s still in a state of shock–not so much from her husband’s untimely death as from the discovery that he’d gambled away all their money and even their home. In addressing the problems of the children at the school where she works, Iris finds distractions from worries.
The story starts when Iris, the main character is seventy-four years old and them moves to the time when she was in her thirties when her husband dies and she makes the very unpleasant discovery that he has spent and gambled all their money, insurance and she will now lose her house. The writer then takes us through a confusing time of a house move, a new job, coping with two teenagers who don’t want changes to their lives, adjusting to small village life. The teenagers come up with new problems all of their own which they are able to keep hidden only for a while. There is romance and friendship, trials, and problem pupils. The characters are rich and the writing is easy and humorous. The feeling is that Iris is doing the best she can, taking long walks and doing the best for her pupils, while at the same time missing the ongoing crisis in her own family. A very good book with likeable people, and a vivid description of small town life.