Reviews of Like I Used To Dance by Barbara Frances
The only way for me to begin my review of Like I Used to Dance by Barbara Frances is to say I loved it! For me to love a fiction book that is simply based on the ups and downs of a loving family in the late ’50s in Texas is unusual. I truly didn’t know what to expect when I began reading Like I Used to Dance. It’s a long novel: would I be bored? Would I even finish it?
Well, Barbara Frances had me completely hooked in the first few pages and I couldn’t read it fast enough. I was dying to know what would happen next to Grace and Bud and their three adult children, all raised as good Catholics. When one daughter becomes a nun, the younger daughter marries a mean, misogynistic drunk, and their son falls for a delightful Jewish girl, their peaceful life as farmers is more than a little upset. It becomes even more upset by the entry into their lives of Ceil, a wealthy, beautiful and generous woman with a troubled past she might never have survived if it weren’t for the local black woman, May-May. Loved by everyone, May-May is feared by that rotten drunk husband who is hell-bent on killing her, and he nearly succeeds, but there’s no way I’m going to be a spoiler here and tell you any more. You just have to read Like I Used to Dance and find out for yourself.
Barbara Frances offers liberal minded readers everything they crave: suspense, violence, evil, sex (never explicit) and tons of good. That timeless theme of good conquering evil propels the novel to satisfying conclusions, though some may question the likelihood of certain situations presented. But if I had to nail what most riveted me to this story, it would be the questions Barbara raises, through her characters, about being born, bred and raised into religions that we live by despite our questions and doubts. Grace, along with her two daughters, and thanks to Ceil, is troubled by the blind adherence to tenets drummed into us since we were infants. These three women ask themselves questions I asked myself as a child, and later as a teen. They, like me, find themselves being freed as they reach answers their religious upbringing would deem sinful. And in finding those answers, they find their real selves. And that self is a far more honest one of whom they can be proud.
Like I Used to Dance by Barbara Frances could almost be described as a “coming of age” book for the bulk of the characters in the story. And there are many of them. Too often for me, a large number of characters in a novel is a turn off. I hate struggling to remember who is who. But this doesn’t happen under the skillful pen of Barbara Frances. She knows where she’s going with this story, its events, its issues, and its characters, and we, the readers, enjoy every part of the journey. A 5-star book all the way, I highly recommend Like I Used to Dance and I look forward to reading Barbara Frances’ next book. I hope she won’t keep me waiting too long!
Barbara, I cannot begin to tell you how much I enjoyed your book! It was wonderful. You had me from go and I couldn’t wait to get to “my latest read” each night. Unusual for me as I’m mostly into memoir and/or true crime, suspense etc and to find a book based on families, love, family values, the ageless theme of good over evil that kept me so enthralled is unusual. I’m envious! I wish I’d written it LOL. Love it. Keep writing. I look forward to your next book.
Reviewed By Viga Boland for Readers’ Favorite
Midwest Book Review
Critique: “Like I Used To Dance” is an impressively well written novel and an exceptionally memorable read from beginning to end. Indeed, “Like I Used To Dance” is one of those all to rare works of literary fiction that lingers in the mind and memory long after the novel itself has been finished and set back upon the shelf. Clearly, author Barbara Frances is a talented and original storyteller and “Like I Used To Dance” will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to community library General Fiction collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that “Like I Used To Dance” is also available in a Kindle edition ($7.99).
Mary Cowper, Reviewer
5 Stars – You’ll Be Hooked On This Book
After only a few pages I was hooked by Like I Used to Dance and Barbara Frances’ gifts as a storyteller. She creates multidimensional characters who are so real that I found myself thinking about them in between sessions with the book, and she weaves a plot that is by turns suspenseful, funny, touching and gripping. Set in a rural Texas community more than sixty years ago, the book explores social, racial and family themes — many of which continue to resonate today. But above all, it’s a great read! It will take you places where you’ve never been, from a KKK meeting that is both sinister and pathetic, to a heartbroken man’s encounter with a mystical fox. Barbara Frances writes with insight, compassion, full knowledge of the human heart, and lots of twists, turns and surprises. Highly recommended.
5 Stars – There is not a dull page in this book
Amazingly well written! The details of the characters are very much thought out and well described. The story plot will keep you reading and reading.. There is not a dull page in this book. A moment in time that I was reading I was sitting at the dr’s office and had to be tapped by the nurse who had called my name several times. I never heard the nurse due to being so wrapped up in the book! This is one book that you must read!
5 Stars – Couldn’t Get Enough!
I read books in part for a short escape from everyday life and in part to feel less alone. It has been awhile since I’ve read a book that has achieved both. “Like I Used To Dance” gets the job done.
Barbara Frances does a masterful job of taking a reader back to a seemingly simpler time and place. But as you travel through “Like I Used to Dance” you realize there is nothing simple about being human. And that is exactly what Frances illustrates so beautifully with each character. Frances does an outstanding job of writing characters with such depth and love that even when there might be a character you are supposed to hate, you can’t help but secretly love them just a little. Each character is so relatable and has such a great story line that I couldn’t put the book down. I had to know how things turned out for everyone.
Barbara Frances has woven together a beautiful story that still has me thinking about all of the characters long after I finished reading it. You don’t want to miss this gem of a book!
4 Stars – Brilliant writing, very addictive read
This was a wonderful novel. It was a brilliant matching of the traditions and beliefs of one generation and the actions and feelings of another. It does so with a great deal of detail, thought and emotion.
I have always found it interesting, just how different generations can be, whether it be to do with religion, trends, marriage or something else, there always seem to be large rifts between the ages. I loved that this book approached that, in a very real, family life setting. It not only broached the subject, but we had several different examples, within one family.
This difference led to a lot of tension, within the family, and we read along as both the parents and the children deal with the repercussions of sticking to what they believe is right. I think this book really hit home for me, as my mother and I have very different beliefs and values. Just like the story, it used to cause us to have disputes, sometimes really horrible ones, and then we learned to appreciate our different values and got to know how to live in harmony.
This book follows a similar process, as the family, well most of them, tries to get to a point where they are no longer distanced. The author approached it with heart and tons of emotion. This made the story feel very real. The passion, in each character, really brought them and their values to life.
I liked the pace and storyline a lot. It went well with the true life feel and gave you enough time to see each person’s side and tale. The level of detail put into the read was absolutely fantastic, and really added a lot to my love of the story.
Overall, this is a unique read that approaches subject we often like to sweep under the rug, and makes them exciting, emotional and teaches us how to see everything differently. I highly recommend it if you are looking for a deep and passionate novel, that will touch your heart.
**I received this book for free in exchange for my honest and unbiased opinion.
5 Stars – Family Saga Full of Drama and Heart
Don’t start this book before bedtime or you’ll be late to work! I love family sagas and this one swept me along. It’s about Grace, a warm, creative woman strong for her family but out of touch with her own needs. The place is rural Texas and the time is the fifties, when women were still trapped as homemakers. The family is Catholic and Grace’s daughters have their own struggles. Angela is unsure if she should become a nun and Regina has to decide if she’ll divorce her abusive husband. Grace herself is a talented artist who has never realized her potential. She develops a close bond with Ceil, a sophisticated transplant from LA who blows into the life of Grace and her family like a powerful wind. In the end, everything turn s out but nothing is the same. A great read!
5 Stars – Delicious Characters and Fully Satisfying Story. Loved This New Book.
Have you ever eaten a luscious piece of pecan pie, savoring the last bite in small bits, not wanting it to end, and then rushed to get another piece? I am going to read this book again, immediately. I want to relish every nuance in the well developed characters that I may have missed the first time. The storyline is full of surprises and the characters leap off the pages. I hope the book becomes a screenplay. Actors would vie to play these roles. Carve out a few hours. This is a book you are not going to want to put down. Cheers, Ms. Frances. Thank you for a fully satisfying read. I look forward to your next work.
5 Stars – Enjoy This Texas Treat
Ms. Frances has given us a rare treat. She writes of people and places she knows well….their traditions, their culture, their pleasures and their pains. We come to care very much for these characters and follow their interwoven stories, eager to learn how their struggles are resolved. Ms. Frances infuses her story with her special kind of humor while, at the same time, tugging on our heart strings as her characters, even the less likable ones, strive to overcome their unique challenges. You can feel the hot Texas sun, see the parched landscape, smell the barbecue in the air, because this writer knows and loves her setting. Better set aside time to enjoy this page-turner. It’s a real pleasure! What’s next Ms. Frances?
5 Stars – A Different Kind of Book
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.
I have to say that this is different from the books that I usually read. That being said, this book was very well written with a lot of detail on every character and every situation. The author paid a lot of attention to creating her story and backgrounds and it was very easy to get sucked into her story. I’m not going to give any spoilers but I do recommend reading this book, it gives a new perspective on how things were different for different people and also shows that there is kindness in the world. Thank you for letting me read your book:)
5 Stars – Had Me at Page One
Like I Used To Dance grabbed my attention from the very first page. As with all great books, I fell in love with the characters immediately. I cared deeply about what happened to them and their development in t his simple yet complex story. The unfolding of each character is full of surprise, intrigue, brilliantly written by Barbara Frances. Though set in the past, Like I Used to Dance weaves together many controversial ideas that will make a reader think or rethink for the first time about current and revelant issues of our day.
5 Stars – Ms. Frances gives voice to women living in the…
Ms. Frances gives voice to women living in the traditionalist heartland communities that William Faulkner, James Agee and John Steinbeck wrote about. She presents them more intimately, more honestly and more humanly, however. As a man I am fascinated, enlightened, and quite moved. I can’t wait for what comes next from her pen.
5 Stars – Captures life as I remember it.
As a Catholic farm girl growing up in the time frame for this book, I could readily relate to the morals and expectations for women during this age. Ms Francis did an excellent job of building her characters and pulling her reader into her story. I enjoyed this book so much that I stayed up way into the night to finish the book.and then was sad to have it end, An excellent read and I look forward to more stories from Barbara Frances.
5 Stars – Great Book!
I read the book in two days. Couldn’t put it down. I believe the book will appeal more to women than men. Great read. Proud of you girl.
5 out of 5 stars
I really like this book…. Yes, it has alcoholism, abuse, unmarried sex, a little voodoo, even a little lesbian sex BUT it all fits into the story. I don’t like unnecessary cursing or excessive sex and I don’t think this book has either. These characters are real and the “vices” speak to their characters and the story. It is well written. These characters are real and life-like. I feel sorry for Grace and Bud, for Regina and for Angela, unable to decide if she was going to to stay in a convent. I was given a copy of this book by NetGalley to read and I’m so glad I got to read it! I do recommend the author and the book.
3 Stars – Most every family could find someone in the story that was like a member of their own family
I usually do not read fiction, however, I found this book interesting. About a family growing up in Texas in the 40s about the time I was growing up in another state. Most every family could find someone in the story that was like a member of their own family.
5 Stars – Beautifully written by my wife, Barbara
I won’t hide the fact that the author is my wife or how extremely proud I am that she can write something so moving and touching. I spent my high school years in the fifties, and it was a different time. Unlike Barbara, I’m a city boy, but I still remember many stories, and she has captured the emotional and physical turmoil that often accompanies family life then and even today.
I don’t know what qualifies as a saga but for me Like I Used To Dance is a page-turner family saga that captures you from the first page and never lets you go. As a writer I only wish my writing could come close to Barbara’s. Read Like I Used To Dance because it would be a real loss if you miss the opportunity to read a great novel.