Dance Lessons
by Áine Greaney


Syracuse University Press, 2011. ISBN 978-0-815-60984-1.
Reviewed by Judy Miller
Posted on 03/31/2011

Fiction: Chick Lit; Fiction: Literary

Sometimes you discover a whole different side of a person, one that you never imagined, even after years of knowing them.

This happened to Ellen Boisvert, a year after her husband Fintan died. Fintan Dowd, emigrated from Ireland, had a few secrets that he chose not to share with Ellen or his family and friends back home. She had a few of her own.

The reader gets a first glimpse into Fintan and Ellen in 1986, fifteen years prior to the opening chapter where Ellen is processing emotions of grief and anger—about her unhappy and unsatisfying marriage, the drowning death of her husband, and confusion about who she is and what she wants. She has no answers.

Ellen decides to travel to Fintan's roots in Gowna, Ireland and ends up taking care of her tough mother-in-law, Jo. Greaney weaves wonderfully executed flashbacks into the unfolding complex story to lead Ellen and pull the reader deeply into discovery. While in Ireland Ellen learns a great deal about her Fintan and his story, those he left behind, and about forgiveness. As a result she also learns a lot about herself, how strong she is, and this leads to her transformation.

Dance Lessons is filled with longing, and redemption. It is also filled with beauty and promise. The writing is lovely and poignant and begs the reader's empathy. Dance Lessons will leave the reader wanting more.


Born and raised in County Mayo, Áine Greaney is a writer and editor living in Boston's North Shore. She is the author of the novel The Big House and the short story collection The Sheep Breeders Dance. In addition, she has written several award-winning short stories and numerous feature articles for The Irish Independent, The Irish Voice, Creative Nonfiction, and The Literary Review, among others. Find out more about her on her website.

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