Tag Archives: review

Book Report: “Pretending to Dance”

Pretending to Dance, by Diane Chamberlain

  • DougInNC book report
  • “More than a Review”

“Good golly, Miss Molly.” That quote from my years growing up predates the years of our main character Molly. Another mismatch is that I am not the target audience for this novel. Neither of those aspects kept me from appreciating the work.

Good golly, Molly has issues; make that ISSUES. The antagonist of this story is Molly’s past, or as she clearly says, “My past is in my way, … a roadblock, holding me back, keeping me from moving forward. I have no idea how to make it go away.”

Her father is a psychologist, or psychotherapist. One of that ilk could become immersed in the characters of this novel. (Behaviorists could spend a career in the setting on Morrison Ridge.) He loves her and helps her, but in a hesitant ‘when-you-are-old-enough-to-deal-with-it’ manner that holds her back. Her mother justifies it later, when Molly wishes she had known the truths of her childhood: “You couldn’t have handled it, honey. … It wouldn’t have been fair for us to lay it on you. …”

Molly wants to help nearly everyone, which young Miss M. describes as “the burden of needing to keep not only my father happy …”. When her husband attributes that ‘helping’ character element to her, she thinks, “…I am not that generous person Aidan described.” She has one thought from which to draw that conclusion, an example of Molly’s think-and-react nature. Despite having become a lawyer, she is not a person who gathers evidence when dealing with her own life, not a builder of plus-and-minus tables, not a mental calculus aficionado. I am not like this gal in more ways than age alone.

Nearly everyone wants to help Molly, but for most of her life she has not helped herself, now she won’t let the person closest to her do it, and has shut out those who want to come back into her life. Nobody has her address, and Molly lacks the ability to address her past without the people who created it. “There have been months… maybe even years … when I haven’t thought once about Amalia. … I know she’s tried to get in touch with me through Dani over the years, the same way Nora has, …”.

Author Diane Chamberlain weaves an excellent tale, supported by her research, and stays within the historic timeframe(s) of the story. There are descriptive gems for readers like me that marvel at the writer’s capability of expression, including these jewels:

  • “I sat alone in the dark, my body trembling convulsively. I felt nauseous, as though if I tried to get up off the bed, I’d get sick. My body was sore and my heart ached.”
  • “Practicing law lifts pretense to an art form. I pretend every day that my clients are in the right, that I am not twisting the truth to win their cases.but I know the truth about myself and my work: I am a pretender of the first order. And I’m a little tired of it.”

I enjoyed “Pretending to Dance” and look forward to meeting this North Carolina author.

The Help (2011)

Watching “The Help” for a second time was well worth the hours. I’m usually captivated by historical perspectives and stories about writers. This film covered the former fine, but did not adequately characterize the efforts and angst of the author for my taste; that’s okay, it was about “The Help.” For a movie with excellent coverage of the author,  see “Genius.

The acting was good on all sides, including featured roles for Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer, seen on the 2017 big screen in  “Fences” and “Hidden Figures,” respectively.

Would the book be better than the movie for this story? Perhaps I should read Kathryn Stockett’s novel.



Hamilton 2 – May I have 20,000 words with you?

Nothing plain about Hamilton, except for the printed ticket.
Note: Ticket PRICE not shown actual size … if you know what I mean!
Ticket to Hamilton

Why was “Hamilton An American Musical” something I had to see a second time in May 2016? Because I “heard” and “felt” far more than I saw that first time in 2015 (Hamilton 1 – Love at First Lyrics). My mental “vision” was obscured by the fun of processing all those delightful words that enamored me while I embraced them. Continue reading Hamilton 2 – May I have 20,000 words with you?

Hamilton 3 – The Third Time and I’m Charmed

How does the musical Hamilton “go on and on, grow into more of a phenomenon?” I ventured to the Chicago production of “Hamilton An American Musical” in April 2017, full of wonder for something exceedingly familiar.

I would be “delighted and distracted” in this third viewing after two in NY (cast contrast later in this post), but more aware of lighting, scenery, costumes, and movements that combine with words I knew well and discussed in previous posts:

Mezzanine seating in Private Bank Theatre differed from orchestra level in NYC, particularly for observation of complex and varied lighting schemes. Spotlights can be squared rather than rounded. Red on the stage can represent blood spilled in battle. A character can be illuminated differently than any other “loyal, royal subject” because every aspect of his appearance is unlike any other role. Continue reading Hamilton 3 – The Third Time and I’m Charmed

Trapped (2002)

“Trapped” (2002) arrived via the way-back machine, but why not a suspense thriller featuring Charlize Theron? (See her in 2005’s “North Country.”) Dakota Fanning’s acting was awesome at just eight years old.

The cast built drama and character across three well-directed settings that meshed. Unfortunately, when they all came together the film fell apart. It resorted to chases, crashes, stunts, pyrotechnics, and more “art” Hollywood often can’t resist injecting in a good story.


The Homesman (2014)

I began skeptical that Tommy Lee Jones produced, directed, and acted this movie only because he needed work late in his career, and doubtful that any Western could still be likeable.

I finished with an appreciation for all the acting, for Hillary Swank’s strong character, and knowing that Jones remains active in Bourne and others. A good cast was assembled, and the story made this film worth my time.