Title: Dance, Gladys, Dance
Author: Cassie Stocks
My Rating: ♥♥♥♥
The best way I can think to describe this book is “that was a fun romp.” To me, it was more about the colourful characters than the very improbable and a bit thin at times storyline.
The main character, Frieda Zweig, is a little bit lost in life. She has just returned to Winnipeg after having dropped out of art school and come out of a couple of devastatingly wrong relationships. She answers an intriguing ad in the paper for a phonograph that contains the line “Gladys doesn’t dance anymore. She needs the room to bake,” which just sets off the whole unlikely but very charming chain of events.
In some very loose way, this book kind of reminded me of The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared. I think it was the way the story was just kind of absurd but the characters were what really held it up and kept it going.
I really liked how each of the characters in the book is quirky and creative in their own way. Frieda herself just yearns inside to paint, even though she has sworn off doing so and she has crippling doubt about her own abilities. Then there is old Miss Kesstle and her crocheting. Girl and her photography and later the fashions she makes out of Miss Kesstle’s crocheting. Gladys and her dancing. Ginny and her cutlery sculptures. There’s always a new quirky delight to be discovered about each of these characters.
I wouldn’t say the book deals with any really important themes deep down. I mean, it kind of tries to go down the path of women’s rights, and the importance of art in the community, but to me it really feels more like it’s a pretty weak story line that was only invented to show off these beautiful characters that came out of the author’s head. And I think that’s OK.
I chose this book because it’s on the Canada Reads 2018 longlist. Do I think it should win Canada Reads with their theme of “One Book to Open Your Eyes”? Well, no, I don’t think so. But this is my first off that list, so you never know what might happen. But I do recommend it to you if you like to read about fun and quirky characters not really doing that much of importance.