The Girl from the Paradise Ballroom by Alison Love
ARC, e-Book, 336 pages
April 19, 2016
ARC, e-Book, 336 pages
April 19, 2016
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Received for review for tour with TLC Book Tours
The first meeting between Antonio and Olivia at the Paradise Ballroom is brief, but electric.
Years later, on the dawn of World War II, when struggling Italian singer Antonio meets the wife of his wealthy new patron, he recognizes her instantly: it is Olivia, the captivating dance hostess he once encountered in the seedy Paradise Ballroom. Olivia fears Antonio will betray the secrets of her past, but little by little they are drawn together, outsiders in a glittering world to which they do not belong. At last, with conflict looming across Europe, the attraction between them becomes impossible to resist--but when Italy declares war on England, the impact threatens to separate them forever.
The Girl from the Paradise Ballroom is a story of forbidden love and family loyalties amid the most devastating war in human history.I was really looking forward to reading this novel, however I had a little bit of a love/hate relationship with the experience. I wanted to love it because of the different perspective on the oft told World War II story, but I found it a little convoluted and hard to enjoy to its fullest extent. To start with, the subject matter. The novel is set in England during the early days of World War II and one portion of the novel (a significant portion) is focused on an Italian immigrant family. Through this family you see not only the immigrant experience during this time, but also how immigrants were treated in WWII England, and how the tendrils of the fascist cause reached into that country too. I do not know very much about the fascists, the state of Italy during the war, and Mussolini, but it was an eye opening experience – and that was something I appreciated.
Where I struggled with this story was in caring about the characters. I did not feel like the author did enough in the early stages of the story to make me love them. There was a rather large cast of characters right from the beginning that I struggled to keep up with all of them. So, by the time that the romance between Olivia and Antonio took hold, I did not really care about them as a couple – which is sad because the whole story sort of builds to this and it has a significant impact on the resolution of the story. I also did not really understand the basis for the passionate love between the two – the whole time I found Olivia to have no interest, while Antonio appeared transfixed – it felt contrived to me. I really found the peripheral characters to be vastly more interesting than the main characters and would likely have enjoyed the novel more if they were featured more heavily.
I honestly considered putting this book down around the 30% point; I just didn’t care enough about the characters to commit to it. However, I am glad I pushed through as the climax and resolution were really good, but I’m not sure it was ultimately worth the time to get there.
As a side note, I think the cover was a great representation of the novel!
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Monday, April 18th: Luxury Reading
Monday, April 18th: The Maiden’s Court
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Friday, May 13th: Broken Teepee
Monday, May 16th: Diary of an Eccentric
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