cover image Dancing Backward

Dancing Backward

Salley Vickers, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $25 (256p) ISBN 978-0-374-22316-8

Leaving her grown sons in Britain, recently widowed Violet Hetherington takes a six-day transatlantic cruise to New York to look up an old friend whom she let down decades before. Naturally shy, Violet is drawn out of her shell by a fascinating cast of fellow seafarers, including the crude Les Garson and his long-suffering wife, Valerie; the wise Miss Foot; dance instructor Dino, a suave Briton with a fake Italian accent; anxious steward Renato; cheerful couple Ken and Jen Morrison; and intellectual Americans Martha Cheever and Balthazar Lincoln. Taking the advice of Miss Foot to heart—"The world always responds if we listen"—Violet, taken by her new companions, follows her instinct to dance, and gets closer to Dino, who helps Violet reconcile her traumatic past. Interwoven with the at-sea narrative are vignettes from Violet's past, including her unhappy life with abusive first husband Bruno, which sheds light on her personality quirks, her emotionally risky journey, and her long-abandoned dreams. The latest from British author and literature professor Vickers is a moving story of a good second-chance romance. (Aug.)