Wednesday 7 March 2018

Book Review: Forest Dancer by Susan Roebuck

Last Updated: 13 July 2021

Forest Dancer by Susan Roebuck book cover

AD* | Work to impress, dance to express.

It’s a long way to go to create a new life for yourself.

Classical ballerina, Flora Gatehouse, has no choice but to take a risk. Having failed an important ballet audition in London, she moves to a small cottage in a forest just outside Lisbon, Portugal, her only inheritance following her father’s death.

Soon, Flora is involved in village life, where fate takes a new twist when she becomes attracted to forest ranger, Marco. But they are off to a shaky start.

Can Flora find acceptance in a foreign land, in a magical place that harbours secrets and heartache?

Having previously read and enjoyed Rising Tide, another of Susan Roebuck's novels, I was always going to say yes when asked to review this book. I loved the descriptive imagery and poetic ebb and flow of Susan's writing from the first story, so couldn't wait to start reading Forest Dancer!

Luckily for me, Forest Dancer certainly did not disappoint.

Although our main character, Flora, is clearly a privileged young woman from a wealthy background, you can't help but feel sympathy for her as things seem to keep going wrong. From her work problems to health concerns and, of course, the overwhelming sense of loneliness and separation from her family and friends, these are issues that we all face at one point or another during the course of our lives.

However, as Flora heads to Portugal and begins to get to grips with a drastically different but vastly rewarding lifestyle (helped, of course, by Roebuck's fantastic descriptions once again) you automatically find yourself rooting for her and willing her to succeed. There are so many different threads holding this story together that it could easily become too tangled and complex, yet each distinct subplot is carefully woven into the overall storyline with the utmost ease and consideration. 

My one gripe with this book is that I felt it lost its realism at certain points throughout the story. Of course, I'm always prepared to allow a little artistic licence and creative leeway in fiction, but surely a novel based in reality such as this should maintain its realism throughout? While this isn't to say that I don't enjoy fantasy (regular readers will know that certainly isn't the case!), I like to know what genre I am reading before I start so I can make sure I am fully prepared. Perhaps it's just my own personal opinion, but I did feel that we lost the path of sanity and escaped into ethereal, otherworldly lands at times. 

However, this didn't detract from my overall enjoyment of the book and my drive to get to the end of the story to find out what happened! I feel this novel deserves a solid three-star rating - although I personally enjoyed Rising Tide more than Forest Dancer, I still look forward to reading more from Susan Roebuck.

Rating: 3 stars

Forest Dancer is available to buy now.

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* I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

Have you read any of Susan Roebuck's books? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below!

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